Friday, January 30, 2009

Classy New Train from NYC to Atlantic City

There was a time when a casino bus would pull up in front of the By George Restaurant on Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights and pick up gamblers (mostly senior citizens) for a day at Atlantic City. The bus ride may not have been classy, but it was convivial and rolls of quarters would be distributed. (Haven't seen the casino buses on Henry Street for some time now, though Greyhound offers a ride to Atlantic City from Brooklyn.)

Now an alternative to the Atlantic City casino bus is ready to roll. And, unlike the buses, the train will be classy: The first direct train service from New York to Atlantic City will feature leather seats, food and drink and other amenities. Crain's New York

Photo by Kamoteus, Creative Commons license.

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'Disfarmer' at St. Ann's Warehouse -- It's Out There

Dan Hurlin last presented at St. Ann's Warehouse in Dumbo in 2004 with his award-winning puppet-theater work, Hiroshima Maiden, returns with the World Premiere of Disfarmer.

The story is inspired by the over forty-year career of portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, who for decades shunned his family and neighbors while operating the only portrait studio for miles around Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Hurlin uses remarkable "table-top puppetry," an "oddly funny text" by Sally Oswald and an original banjo score by Dan Moses Schreier. Worth watching: behind the scenes video at St. Ann's Warehouse.

Runs through Feb. 8.

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Black Ice At Empire - Fulton Ferry State Park, Dumbo

There was a solid sheet of ice covering the walkways at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in Dumbo yesterday. Don't know how it came to freeze so evenly on the hills, but it was almost impossible to walk on.

Photo by MK Metz

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tillary Street Redesign Meeting: DOT Gets Input From Brooklyn Residents

In what sounded like a constructive meeting, residents were encouraged on Tuesday to contribute ideas to the DOT about how to improve Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Eagle sat in on a discussion with one group that focused on the Tillary-Adams intersection. Members of the group brainstormed several ideas, including shrinking the service roads and widening the medians as a way of allowing more room for pedestrians to cross safely.

Other ideas discussed: A wider central median on Adams Street, possibly even with park benches; larger and safer bicycle lanes; and more here.

In June, the DOT made a trial change in traffic patterns at the intersection of Adams and Tillary streets, at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. This intersection (marked with an orange arrow, above) has been the scene of many devastating accidents.

-Traffic Changes Saturday at Dangerous Downtown Brooklyn Intersection

- Remembering the Dead at a Dangerous Brooklyn Intersection -- Tillary and Adams Street

- Another Accident at Tillary and Adams Streets

- DOT traffic cam at the intersection of Adams and Tillary streets.

Diagram by DOT

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Life's A Funny Thing, And More Brooklyn Briefs

- One day you're having cocktails, shopping at designer sample sales and taking cabs, and the next you're paying for your purchases at the Park Slope Food Coop with food stamps. And seeing things from a totally different perspective. Bed-Stuy Banana

- Say it ain't true: executives have traded down from Starbucks and instead are dining at . . . McDonald's. NY Post

- New Carroll Gardens restaurant -- Buttermilk Channel -- gets a nice review in the Daily News.

- The NY Times announced that its fourth-quarter profits fell nearly 50 percent over last year, and the paper is looking into selling its stake in the Red Sox. NY Magazine

- The U.S. House just voted to approve an amendment, sponsored by U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (Brooklyn/ Manhattan), that would add $3 billion to be spent on transit projects as part of the stimulus package. Observer

- A multi-million dollar renovation is taking place at Erasmus Hall High School -- but only on the main facility. There's a chance that the original 18th century structure could be lost if something isn't done soon. Queenscrap

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brooklyn Heights Promenade in the Snow With a Frozen Camera

Maybe we spent just a little bit too much time out in the snow this morning.

As we were shooting the Montague Street entrance to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, the protective lens iris froze in a half-open position.

We liked the effect, anyway.

Photo by MK Metz

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Charlie Brown and Linus Laugh Off the Snow in Brooklyn

It's a snow drift, Charlie Brown!

On Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Photo by MK Metz

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Brooklyn's Economy Has 'A Few Bright Lights,' Including Governor's Island -- Uh Oh

Things will get worse before they get better, but there are also a few bright lights in Brooklyn’s economic future, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, reporting from Tuesday’s Economic Outlook Breakfast sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Sovereign Bank.

The city’s downturn, which started later than the rest of the country’s, will be “sharper and will go further, ” said George Sweeting, deputy director of the NYC Independent Budget Office.

Among the bright lights, however, are the successes of manufacturing and industrial businesses at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the (re)linking of Brooklyn to Governors Island.

Uh Oh: According to the Observer, there's no money to develop Governor's Island, and it's ferry will be put up for auction on EBay. That's one bright light that's looking kind of dim.

More here.

Image: Google Earth

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Barack Supporters to Create Change Right Here in Brooklyn

The hundreds of Brooklynites who volunteered for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign are determined to keep the ball rolling, according to Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn:

"On Feb. 8, more than 65 local nonprofits, charities and advocacy groups will join together for the first-ever 'Continue the Change Service Fair.' Organized by the grassroots Brooklyn for Barack and the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the volunteer fair will seek to harness the incredible energy sparked by the Obama campaign."

Get all the details here.

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dumbo Dock Street Public Hearing Tonight

On January 15, Community Board 2 approved the controversial Walentas Two Trees Dock Street project in Dumbo (shown in the center of the diagram, above). The promise of a small school in the 18-story rental building generated enthusiasm from local parents, desperate for a neighborhood middle school.

Critics, however, say the building is too close to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, and point out that it will obstruct, for the first time, views from Dumbo and the sweeping vista now observable from the eastern end of the bridge.

Next step: A public hearing, part of the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) approval process, is scheduled for today, Tuesday, from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, in the Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom, second floor, 209 Joralemon St.

-The Dumbo Neighborhood Association and the Brooklyn Heights Association and oppose the plan.

- Image courtesy of Two Trees Management, which approves of its plan, along with these supporters.

- Put Middle School in Brooklyn Heights' P.S. 8, Says Yassky

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President Obama Action Figure vs Darth Vader

Carrie L. sent us the link to this President Obama action figure page on and we just can't get enough. Check out all the poses.

This is just another cool thing that that Japanese have beaten us to!

Who does the Darth Vader figure represent? Can't be Dick Cheney -- he's still in a wheel chair.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

'Expensive Plastic Potato Chip' in Coney Island

Marty Markowitz's $64 million Coney Island Performing Arts Center amphitheater -- hailed as "a significant enhancement for the popular outdoor concerts at Asser Levy-Seaside Park"-- is now being questioned as a waste of money and destroyer of the parkland, according to the Brooklyn Eagle.

"What — $64 million for this?” said environmental activist Ida Sanoff, a former Community Board 13 member. “Why put a commercial venue in the midst of a residential community, bringing traffic jams? Our libraries and school programs are being cut. It will take away parkland and bring more noise. We don’t need this expensive plastic potato chip here!”

Photo of the Pringle-shaped ampitheater here.

More at Brooklyn Paper

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Bagel Dogs in Brooklyn

These dogs anxiously await the emergence of something -- perhaps a giant bagel -- from the interior of the Hot Bagels store on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.

There actually is a culinary monstrosity called a "bagel dog," by the way. (See Schwan's Bagel Dogs with Cheese.) According to Wikipedia, bagel dogs were invented in New York.

Photo by MK Metz

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Money, Politics and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Tax payers may be sorry they paid "exorbitant" fees to H&R Block and other Brooklyn tax preparers for processing Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs). This year. banks are refusing to lend against tax refunds – even at usury interest rates. Room 8

- Governor David Patterson's approval ratings are down and his management skills are being called into question. Crain's New York

- Respected economists Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini say that 2009 is going to be much worse than many financial experts predict. Wall Street Journal via NYC Housing Bubble

- Brooklyn officials and real estate professionals are hailing the Senate on its confirmation of Shaun Donovan, a resident of Boerum Hill, as President Barack Obama’s new secretary of housing and urban development. Brooklyn Eagle

- A poster on Curbed wants to swap his house in Miami for a home in Brooklyn: "I'd like to do a pure swap: my house in Miami for an condo, townhouse, or mixed use building in the city or Brooklyn. It would be equal equity." For some reason, many commenters take umbrage at the notion. Curbed

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Hiding Sparrows On Brooklyn Heights Promenade

What a racket on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade Friday! It was deliciously warm and sunny, and the air was filled with the sound of hundreds of birds happily chirping and squawking.

We finally figured out where all the birds were hiding -- in the leafless hedges lining the walkway.

How many little puffy sparrows can you find in the bit of shrubbery pictured above? We found 10.

Click on the photo above to enlarge.

When you've found your birds,
look at the photo


Photo by MK Metz

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Bus Cuts: Manhattan Riders Yelling Louder, Brooklyn Could Be Hit Unfairly

A reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle encountered an elderly B25 bus rider circulating a “Save Our B25 Bus” petition: “Did you know that the city wants to get rid of this bus line?” said the woman. Another rider exclaimed, “What! I hadn’t heard about it.” She immediately signed the petition as others eagerly did so, too.

If the proposed mass transit cuts go into effect this spring, 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, B75 and others.

Bravo to that elderly woman: Most of the older people in my building are unaware that the only bus that they can make it to -- the B25 -- is slated for elimination. This is probably playing out the same way all over Brooklyn. Riders will be unaware that their buses are going to disappear until they are gone.

Commenter Peony said on an earlier post: "Brooklyn and Queens are getting a really unfair amount of cuts, particularly the southwestern slope, south Gowanus, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge."

Peony was was one of only two people who spoke out for Brooklyn in the Manhattan hearings. It seems that Brooklyn is competing against Manhattan for transit funds: "There were extremely organized groups there for the M8 and the M10, with multiple speakers and many people in the audience holding signs," Peony says.

B25 Bus Route, Facing Ax, Target of Petitions Brooklyn Eagle

Crucial Brooklyn Bus Routes Face the Ax McBrooklyn

Photo by MK Metz

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The Hit and Run Sledder of Park Slope, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- A distinguished panel of professionals who served on President Obama’s transition team will talk about their experiences, provide critical information and take questions from the audience on Sunday, Jan. 25 at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle

- Everybody seems to like Billy Sunday's, the new BBQ joint on Lincoln, that just opened its doors. But is $7 too much for a beer? Hawthorne Street via NY Magazine

- Obama gets to keep his Blackberry! (His email, according to the NY Times, is “” ) Huffington Post

- The hit and run sledder of Park Slope has been partially identified. And it's a dad . . . and a creep. Gowanus Lounge

- Thank God we didn't win our bid to host the 2012 Olympics! England "won," and who's going to pay for it? NY Magazine

- English schoolgirls are told their hair is too blond: they must dye it brown or be banned from school. Daily Mail via Huffington Post

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

FIOS Cables Going In On Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights

You may have noticed that Henry Street in North Brooklyn Heights is again being dug up. One of the workmen told us that cable for FIOS was being laid down.

The FIOS TV availability web page says that service is not yet available at 75 Henry Street, the building next to the trench.

Photo by MK Metz

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Downtown Brooklyn's Rose Walkway Released From Judges' Grasp

The Rose Walkway, the main thoroughfare of Brooklyn Borough Hall's Columbus Park, has recently been reopened to the public.

The walkway had been taken over for several months (since October 2, 2008) by judges for parking while a lot next to the Supreme Court building was being renovated.

While pedestrians stewed, armed guards stood behind fences, guarding judges' cars.

"Teachers lost their parking spaces. Why should the judges get special privileges? This is our park," said one woman. The Brooklyn Heights Association agreed, saying they were "outraged."

The judges saw no problem, however. "I'm sure it's an inconvenience, but I'm sure everybody's going to be happy in the long run," Administrative Judge Abe Gerges told the Daily News.

Judges Give Finger to Downtown Brooklyn, Take Over Columbus Park for Parking Lot

Photos by MK Metz

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No Room At the Inaugural Ball

It was just way, way too popular: Smack Mellon's Inaugural Ball in Dumbo was sold out last night. The locked-out missed a farewell speech by Dick Cheney (Eric Payson) and a night of music and other entertainment.

Photo by MK Metz

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Haunted Brooklyn Heights Playground? Or Something Else . . .

We were walking at night in the deserted Harry Chapin playground in Brooklyn Heights. It was the kind of quiet that only happens in a powdery snow -- no chirping or buzzing, no radios, no traffic noises.

We shot some photos in the deep, still cold . . . but when we glanced at them casually, we were shocked to see the camera lens had captured an image of an ethereal presence wafting its way around the park.

Was it the ghost of Harry Chapin, musician and beloved son of the Heights? Author of “Taxi” and “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Chapin's life was tragically cut short in 1981, when he was killed in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway.

Sadly, it was not.

The vapors were our own breath, released every time one of us looked through the camera's viewfinder. When we held our breath and took a photo, the park was peaceful, quiet and ghost-free.

As we left Chapin playground (a bit bemused), we clumsily latched the icy gate behind us. Walking up the quiet street towards home, we heard some faint music. We looked at each other for a second. "Did you hear that?"

It sounded like:

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man on the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
you know we'll have a good time then.

Photos by MK Metz

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Mysterious Snowblobs in Brooklyn Heights

Walking around, you see a lot of things. Like these mysterious snowblobs on a walkway near Peas n' Pickles in Brooklyn Heights.

Why would the snow blob like this at the intersection of the walkway tiles? Why would the snow not blob anywhere else?

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

Delivered Jan. 20, 2009

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

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Obama Inauguration Live Feed

UPDATE: The live feed of Tuesday's inauguration of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States, has now concluded.

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Little Snow Thing in Brooklyn

This cute little feller was standing on a sidewalk next to Henry Street in Cobble Hill.

Photo by MK Metz

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Gigantic Cloned Chickens the Size of a House, and More Coney Island News

- The Department of City Planning will begin the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for the redevelopment of Coney Island today. The Real Deal

- The Bloomberg Administration will officially unveil its long-awaited plans to rezone Coney Island today. Crain's NY

- Even Better: Imagine Coney Island as a futuristic zoo where visitors can take photographs of gigantic hybrid animals, with a cross-breed chicken/goat the size of a house. Brooklyn Eagle

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Throw Shoes. Play Games. Enjoy the Inauguration.

- Hundreds throw shoes onto White House lawn. Huffington Post

- Americans are that optimistic that Obama can turn America's battered fortunes around. Daily Mail

- Worst. President. Ever. Left in Bay Ridge

- Play the "Goodbye Mr. Bush" game. Huffington Post

- Obama inauguration schedule. Newsday

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Brooklyn Obama Inauguration Celebrations Map

View Larger Map

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Tuesday, January 20th, people all over Brooklyn will be celebrating at restaurants, galleries and businesses. McBrooklyn has put together a Brooklyn Inauguration Events map to make it easy to find a place to watch the inauguration and celebrate afterward.

If you want to add your event to the map, email McBrooklyn ( with the name, address, etc. and we'll try to paste it in.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

'Notorious' Violence: Stabbings in Brooklyn Saturday

UPDATED: Four young men were stabbed at a Notorious afterparty 3:25 a.m. Saturday morning at the Djumbala nightclub at 1370 Ralph Avenue.

According to Newsday, one of them had numerous stab wounds, and the other three each had been stabbed once.

Notorious, the movie on the life and times of Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., opened Friday at theaters nationwide. In Greensboro, a shooter opened fire on a fellow moviegoer in a packed theater lobby at the Friday opening.

According to Greensboro Telegram, "In a strange twist, Ryan Seals of the News & Record also reported that Jamal Woolard, the actor who played Biggie Smalls in the 'Notorious' movie, was actually at the Four Seasons theater in Greensboro during the shooting."

The photo above shows Channel 12 news covering the Notorious showings at the United Artists Court Street movie theater Saturday night in Downtown Brooklyn. There were several police cars stationed in front of the theater and a large NYPD van parked down the block.

Wallace was fatally shot in 1997 at the age of 24. On Thursday, Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz presented proclamations to the family of Wallace, at a special screening at BAM. Photos here.

Photo by MK Metz

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Brooklyn's Snow Dogs

Maybe you weren't thrilled with yesterday's snow, but it didn't seem to bother these dogs running and fetching in Cadman Plaza Park and MetroTech.

This dog's natural coloration made him hard to see against the snow.

'I'm not crazy -- the snow is warmer than the air!"

Tony Matelli's "Stray Dog," a life-size resin sculpture of a lost seeing-eye dog, at MetroTech.

For more photos of "Stray Dog"in all seasons, see these links:
- Kids Best Friend, at MetroTech
- Man's Best Friend
- It's Not Always What It Seems

Photos by MK Metz

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Looming Trees at Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn Heights

The London plane trees ring Cadman Plaza Park like sentinels, but you only see the way they lean when they are bare.

Photo by MK Metz

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The Famous Brooklyn Bait-and-Switch Camera Store Scam Busted?

One of the longest running scams in the electronics business started in Brooklyn storefronts and has now spread across the Net, according to ComputerWorld.

This is the famous Brooklyn bait-and-switch camera store scam. It works like this:

"The store advertises expensive cameras at prices hundreds of dollars below retail. When you call to order the camera, the salesperson patiently explains you'll have to pay extra for batteries, memory cards, power cords, manuals, etc. By the time you're done adding 'extras,' you've paid more than if you'd bought it from a legitimate retailer who sold you the complete package. If you say 'No thanks, I'll just take the camera,' you'll find it's suddenly and indefinitely out of stock. If you cancel your order or complain, you get an earful of abuse and even physical threats . . . "

Now, the state of Texas has brought charges against two of the worst offenders. Read here for more.

Photo by Pointnshoot, Creative Commons license

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What Happens To Buds When It Freezes?

Trees all over Brooklyn have little furry buds, like these. What happens to them when it freezes like it did today?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What the Heck's Going On in Williamsburg's CB 1? (It Has Something To Do With the Bike Lane, But . . . )

Teresa Toro, who has served as transportation chair of CB1 in north Brooklyn for six years, was abruptly dumped from that position on Christmas Eve because of an an e-mail she sent to the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper.

On Tuesday night, "scores of community residents, board members and colleagues" packed the meeting and testified to Toro’s dedication and “tireless advocacy” on behalf of the residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

It all started with the Kent Avenue Bike Lane and related parking problems, but where it will end up is anyone's guess.

Read more here.

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We Saw the Brooklyn Bunny! And More Brooklyn Briefs

- A federal judge in Brooklyn rejected Tuesday an attempt to overturn the term limits legislation that cleared the way for Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials to seek a third term this fall. New York Times

- “There’s no such thing as a Catholic school anymore . . . they’re called ‘private school,’ and you don’t have to be Catholic to go." A parent comments about the closing of 14 more Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle

- There have been several nasty attacks on M.S. 51 students recently (near JJ Byrne Park). OTBKB and Park Slope Parents

- The Brooklyn Cyclones will change their name to the "Baracklyn Cyclones" for June 23 and give away Barack Obama bobbleheads to the first 2,500 fans. AP

- Sen. Hillary Clinton blew them away with her exhaustive grasp of the issues at her confirmation hearings for the post of Secretary of State on Tuesday. Huffington Post

- Brooklyn apartment and house prices fell 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter as the recession pushed buyers out of the market and banks reduced lending. Bloomberg

- Work is beginning this winter on the Pier 1 portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Brooklyn Eagle

- We finally saw the bunny at Brooklyn Bunny!

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Sacred Heart on Wyckoff

Life-sized statue of the Sacred Heart, in front of a private residence at 33 Wyckoff Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monty Q's On Livingston Street, Downtown Brooklyn

Attention Trader Joe's shoppers: want a place to come in, sit down, have the best field green salad in the world or a slice of brick oven pizza?

We just noticed there is another Monty Q's three short blocks from TJ's, at 90 Livingston Street (off Court) in Downtown Brooklyn. The original Monty Q's is on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Commenters on Menu Pages like the pizza at the new Monty Q's and say " It's much friendlier and less hectic than its big brother on Montague," and " The manager is very friendly and will make you pretty much anything you could want."

They are both owned by Lassen & Hennigs, also on Montague.

Photo by MK Metz

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Gristedes 'Trader John's' vs Trader Joe's

Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis (shown above at the opening of the recently renovated Brooklyn Heights Gristedes) is in hot water with Trader Joe's for opening up a Trader Joe's clone. Called "Trader John's," the TJ's lookalike is just three blocks away from the Trader Joe's Union Square location.

Stories in the NY Post, Forbes, Bloomberg, Gothamist and more report that TJ's filed a complaint Jan. 8 that Gristedes "gutted, renovated and renamed and redecorated to make it appear more similar to Trader Joe's." It was a "blatant attempt to confuse consumers and capitalize on Trader Joe's hard-earned goodwill."

Forbes says that Trader Joe's has 326 stores in the U.S. and is expected to ring up $7.2 billion in sales in 2009, while Gristedes has 35 stores with $275 million in sales in 2008.

That means thatTrader Joe's makes roughly three times per store than Gristedes. The NY Times noted in September 2007 that the number of Gristedes stores has dropped from 78 a decade ago to 39.

UPDATE: Vanishing New York reports that "Trader John's" has covered up its sign. See photo here.

See all past Brooklyn Heights Gristedes stories here.

Photo by MK Metz

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Crucial Brooklyn Bus Routes Face the Ax

Do you take the B25 bus to Dumbo or East New York? How about the B51 from Brooklyn to Chinatown? Or the B37 in Bay Ridge?

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, if the proposed mass transit cuts go into effect this spring, 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.

Says the Eagle, " . . . Neighborhood protest rallies, petitions and letter-writing drives, plus pressure by City Council members, have ballooned from Williamsburg and DUMBO to Bay Ridge and East New York."

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, bus and subway riders will get a chance to voice their views at the MTA’s Brooklyn public hearing from 6 to 9 p.m. at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

More here.

Shown above: The B25 is the only bus serving Dumbo. (More on this at DumboNYC.)
Photo by MK Metz

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Showtime: Best Time to Buy at Brooklyn TKS Booth

Swing by the Brooklyn TKTS booth (at 1 MetroTech just off Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn) any snowy Saturday! We were there a little after noon yesterday -- the TKTS man was the lonliest guy in town.

TKTS Downtown Brooklyn offers Broadway, Off Broadway, music, dance and Brooklyn performing arts events at discounted prices. The booth is open from Tuesday - Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

- Brooklyn TKTS Booth Now Open Saturdays, Closed Mondays

-Brooklyn's TKTS Booth: Lots of Shows, No Lines

- Countdown to Brooklyn TKTS Grand Opening Begins

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas Is Over at Brooklyn Borough Hall

Well, that's over. The decorations are going back to the Garden shop.

Photo by MK Metz

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Golden Court Street, Brooklyn

Like the golden apples of the sun, these Court Street office buildings glow in the morning light.

Photo by MK Metz

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Very Soon For Dumbo's Ignazio's Pizza?

Word is that Ignazio's Pizza (4 Water Street in Dumbo) will be opening on February 1.

According to DumboNYC, the place is cleaned up and looks ready to roll (though a few locals are against another liquor license in the neighborhood).

Some wonder how they can compete with Grimaldi's, right around the corner. But commenters on Brownstoner say, "Bring on the competition," calling Grimaldi's a tourist trap.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

'Fugitive' Sighting on Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn

Right in plain sight on Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn Heights, the fugitive drives a bright red car -- clearly labeled "Fugitive."

Closer inspection of the dash revealed a police parking permit.

Photo by MK Metz

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Dick Cheney: 'A Warm, Lovable Sort'; and More Amazing Facts

- Forget everything you may have heard. Vice President Dick Cheney told America Wednesday: “I’m actually a warm, lovable sort.” Politico

- John McCain brings out his fly swatter. Huffington Post

- Eat them while you still can: Thanks to a total lack of regulation and rotten corporate behavior, the banana is dying out. Huffington Post

- Gov. Patterson's hour-long (if not longer) State-of-the-State speech was amazing on several levels, but most strikingly because (being blind), he memorized the whole damn thing. NY Times

- Now is a great time to visit New York -- hotels and tour companies are offering substantial discounts. Crain's NY

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anti-Jail Rally on Brooklyn Courthouse Steps Almost Didn't Happen

As local politicians and advocates mounted the steps of state Supreme Court for the "Stop the Brooklyn House of Detention" rally near Borough Hall Tuesday morning, a courthouse security guard came out and demanded to see a permit.

There was an awkward pause, a sort of "I thought you had it" moment, as the organizers realized that there was, um, no permit. The guard proceeded to tells the dignitaries where to go -- way over there, by the road.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, the misunderstanding got worked out (the large number of dignitaries may have had something to do with it) and the Brooklyn House of D opponents made their case on the courthouse steps, as planned.

As described by the Brooklyn Eagle's Dennis Holt, "What was expressed was that this part of town has no reason for a jail; that demographics have changed in the last 20 years, making a jail here an unwelcome blot; that spending $440 million on something not needed or wanted at this time is 'fiscal foolishness'; and that the city is not planning to use required public review measures."

Hours after the rally, the case went before a Brooklyn judge to determine the legality of reopening and expanding the jail. The Eagle article goes into the legalities; one interesting point seems to hinge on whether the city simply wants to reopen the jail, or whether the city wants to jointly reopen and expand the jail.

Apparently, there was some chuckling in the courtroom when the city appeared to concede that point to the petitioners. More on the case here.

- 'Stop the Brooklyn House of Detention' Rally
- Don't Get Your Pants In a Twist Over Brooklyn House of Detention, Says Eagle

- Brooklyn House of Detention, Now With Retail
- Goodbye Supersized, Butt Ugly Brooklyn House of Detention Condos, Hello Bigger Jail
- Brooklyn House of Detention Forum Thursday -- Commissioner Horn Will Answer All Your Questions
- House of Detention Site May Be 'Most Valuable Square Block in Downtown Brooklyn'
- Brooklyn House of Detention Could Get 'Super-sized'
- Spring Cleaning at the Brooklyn House of Detention
- Meet the Neighbors
- Do Not Pass Go. . .
- What Should We Name the Brooklyn House of Detention Hotel?

Photo by MK Metz

Photos by MK Metz

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The Mysterious Disappearing 'Drug Dealing Russians,' and More Brooklyn Briefs

- New York's phone and Internet unemployment claims system started to buckle on Monday afternoon and was out of service completely for part of Tuesday -- while as many as 10,000 people per hour tried to get in. ABC News via NY Magazine

- Are rents actually getting cheaper in Brownstone Brooklyn? Many commenters on Brownstoner have their doubts. Brownstoner

- We didn't know you could get pho on Atlantic Avenue! A Brooklyn Life

- What the heck is that silvery mass growing out of the bottom of a Sunset Park building? Best View in Brooklyn

- Did the New York Times really screw up their Real Estate Classified section? Brownstoner

- The city has drastically revised its Red Hook waterfront plans. Brooklyn Eagle

- A Stop Work Order was issued at 192 Water Street in Dumbo -- that's the one with residential, a theater and a gallery. DumboNYC

- Were a group of drug dealing Russians arrested in Gerritsen Beach last weekend? Why isn't anybody talking? Gerritsen Beach

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Massive Security Measures Coming to Brooklyn's Bridges?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out how many qualified contractors are available "to carry out up to a half a billion dollars worth of security improvements on the bridges connecting Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens," according to the Brooklyn Eagle.

The security improvements might include "the construction of gates, forced-entry door and window treatments, access ladders and platforms, cable and suspender rope covers, steel and masonry reinforcement, anti-climb barriers . . . video surveillance, intrusion detection, access control and command centers."

The Eagle calls this the "bunkerizing" of the bridges, and note that similar measures have been successfully undertaken in the UK.

More here.

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Electrified Lampposts in Brooklyn

While taking a stroll yesterday, we ran across several lampposts in Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn that were blocked off with caution tape and guarded by black cars sporting orange traffic cones.

The one shown above is at the northwest corner of Cadman Plaza West and Clark Street. The Con Ed employee in the car told us that a voltage hazard existed in the lamp post and he was guarding it until the company could come by and fix it.

He was also guarding the nearby post in the middle of the intersection of Cadman Plaza West and Clark, shown above.

Another Con Ed employee in a "coned" car was guarding this post at the corner of Atlantic Avenue at Smith Street.

Con Edison apparently has their hands full. According to an article in the Dec. 15 New York Post, the utility found 7,117 electrified objects on city streets between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2008. That's 468 more than in all of last year.

In years past Con Ed hired livery cab drivers to guard the electrified posts. The NY Daily News reported in 2007:

"The dark cars and their drivers sit next to a roped-off area around the clock for days, with a placard explaining their mission. 'A stray voltage hazard was discovered here,' the card says. 'The coned/taped off area contains an extremely dangerous electrified object or structure.'"

We don't know if Con Ed is hiring livery cab drivers again this year, but if they are, it's a windfall for the drivers. USA TODAY says the drivers are paid $35/hour to sit and guard the posts.

You can protect yourself from many (but not all) shocks by wearing rubber-soled shoes. There are some tips for protecting your dog from shocks and other hazards at FidoBrooklyn.

Photos by MK Metz

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Public Comment Wednesday on New Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar - UPDATE

The new cranberry-colored Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar will open at 50 Henry Street in the former Wine Bar. There will be an opportunity for public comment at a CB2 meeting to be held Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, 121 DeKalb Ave., North Pavilion, Third Floor Conference Rooms 3A and 3B.

According to the Brooklyn Heights Blog and the Brooklyn Paper, the BHWB will be a joint venture from the owners of Henry’s End (Mark Lahm) and Cranberry’s (Jim Montemarano).

The restaurant will serve small, succulent plates of "cheeses, charcuterie, soups and interesting salads.” Come spring, wine will be served.

Frankly, we can't wait. Mark and Jim are bonafide food professionals with a long and positive history in the neighborhood.

Lahm made it clear to the Brooklyn Paper that there are "no associations whatsoever with Dan Kaufman . . ."

Kaufman was arrested in July. His activities are credited with driving the Busy Chef -- along with its sister stores, Blue Pig ice cream shop, Wine Bar, Oven restaurant and Busy Chef Court Street -- 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.

UPDATE: More juicy details about what will be on the menu (and what business used to be in the space) at the Brooklyn Eagle.

- Brooklyn Heights: Busy Chef Cover Up -- Stop Work Order
- 50 Ex- Busy Chef Restaurant Employees in Brooklyn, Ready to Work
- And Then There Were None: The Wine Bar, Last in Brooklyn's Busy Chef Empire, Closes
- 'Mired in Scandal,' It's All Over for Brooklyn's Busy Chef
- Why the Brooklyn Paper Didn't Write About the Crook at the Busy Chef and What This Means For America
- Arrested Busy Chef Partner Has a History in Boston
- A Busy Brooklyn Chef Now Under Arrest
- Downtown Brooklyn Busy Chef Pretty Busy
- Busy Chef Empire: Frozen Dinners or Homemade Cuisine?
- Busy Chef coming to Court Street

Photo by MK Metz
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