Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Well, That Was Fast: Baluchi's Brooklyn Heights Is Open

Baluchi's at 46 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights was (already!) open for dinner last night and had a fair number of customers when we swung by around 7 p.m.

We grabbed a menu (above) which advertises 50% OFF the "executive lunch" from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., in-house dine only. (We always thought "executive lunch" had something to do with martinis.)

The menu lists the special lunch as including one appetizer and one entree (and includes rice, nan bread, cucumber, raita and mango chutney) for $14.95. So half that if you're an executive.

Lots of vegetarian choices, too.

Photo by MK Metz

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Cheapest Soda Machine In Brooklyn Has Moved Indoors

The cheapest soda machine in Brooklyn has moved indoors for the winter. It used to be in Pearl Street Triangle Park.

When we wrote about the magic vending machine last August, one commenter was sort of upset that we revealed where to find it: "Why on earth would you give away the location? Now the thing is going to be empty while an unemployment line will form in front of it waiting for it to be refilled. Yelp people will start rating it, some saying it's so awesomely cheap and others rating it poorly because there was only caffeine free diet cherry coke left in it."

So all we will say is that it is still quite near Pearl Street Triangle Park, and it's still just 50 cents for a bottle of water and 65 cents for a soda.

Photo by MK Metz

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Stealing Ghost Bikes; Betty White's Pranksters; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Someone might be stealing and selling ghost bike memorials. NY Magazine 

- Brooklyn Heights Cinema presents a short version of Heather Quinlan’s film-in-progress, If These Knishes Could Talk: The Story of the New York Accent. Brooklyn Eagle

- Betty White's team of senior pranksters have been spotted in Park Slope. Gothamist 

- What to do in Brooklyn on Valentine's Day. About.com

- "Exceptionally vicious" Bonanno captain gets 10 year, 7 already served. He'll be out in 3, and then will enter the witness-protection program. NY Post

- Brooklyn graffiti says Google is the new Big Brother. amNY

- MF Global's missing $1.2 billion probably just "vaporized." NY Magazine

- A Republican lawmaker withdrew his bill to require drug testing welfare applicants after a Democrat amended it to require drug testing for lawmakers. Huff Post

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Thousands March Over Brooklyn Bridge to Protest Ban On Churches Renting Space in Schools

Hundreds Thousands of pastors and church-goers (including Comptroller John Liu and other officials, above) rallied in Downtown Brooklyn and then marched over the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday afternoon to protest the city's plan to ban them from renting space in public schools.

Roughly 60 congregations without their own church buildings rent space in schools to hold worship services. The ban is set to begin February 12.

The city decided to ban all churches from renting space in schools after the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal from a Bronx Church in December. (More on this decision at NY Times)

The rule specifically bans worship services but allows other activities in school buildings, even activities by religious groups, such as Bible study. According to the NY Daily News, the distinction is absurd because a "prayer meeting" is allowed while a "worship service" is not.

The church groups have set up a webpage at righttoworship.com

More here.

Photos by MK Metz

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Come Tour the Brooklyn House of Detention

Brooklyn House of D: MK Metz
Here's your opportunity to tour Brooklyn's House of Detention -- the Big House of D.

The New York City Department of Correction invites the community to attend an open house at the Brooklyn Detention Complex on Saturday, February 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and it’s absolutely free. This will be an opportunity to meet Warden Walter Nin, ask questions and tour the Boerum Hill facility.

The open house in being held in advance of the phased re-opening of the House of Detention. Approximately 100 inmates per week will be transferred to the facility beginning in February.

See the Cobble Hill Blog for information on registering for the tour.
Previous Posts About the Jail:
- Notorious Escapes From the Brooklyn House of Detention
- Brooklyn House of Detention: City To Refill Boerum Hill Jail
- Brooklyn House of Detention Contract Rejected by Comptroller Thompson
- Anti-Jail Rally on Brooklyn Courthouse Steps Almost Didn't Happen
- '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'

Photo by MK Metz

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Fewer Idiots This Year; Chocolate Earth Opens; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- 2012 Idiotarod: Has the city run out of idiots? Gothamist

- Report: Despite economic conditions, gentrification keeps on progressing in Brownstone Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle 

- A 'Le Pain Quotidien' bakery is coming to Montague Street. BHB and Le Pain Quotidien website

- Brooklyn gun buy-back nets 29 semi-automatics. CBS

- More about Dinosaur BBQ, opening by the end of the year on Union Street in Boerum Hill. Syracuse Blog (also TRD)

- Chocolate Earth opens in DUMBO. Gothamist

- Development of supermarket at Brooklyn Navy yard can go forward now. Brooklyn Eagle

- You can still "smell and taste the tubes from Farrell’s" when you look at these photographs of a teen gang in 1950s Brooklyn. Flavorwire

- The revised DOT proposal for Fulton Ferry traffic calming and two-way Furman Street. Fulton Ferry

- Three of Brooklyn’s 15 general hospitals are teetering on financial collapse, and Gov. Cuomo and the state have to get involved in a big way. NY Daily News

- Thirty pounds of cocaine mysteriously delivered to the United Nations mailroom. Gizmodo

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

iPhone Box Selling for $15,098 on eBay

A bidding war has broken out over an empty iPhone box on eBay. Over the last two days, the bids have climbed from $4.99 to $15,098.

The headline states: "Apple iPhone 4s Black -Box only for a 16GB (Unlocked) Smartphone SHIP WORLDWIDE!" 

The item's description at the bottom of the page clearly says,
"I am selling an ORIGINAL iPhone 4s BOX which can be used to hold a 16GB iPhone (or any iPhone 4). This comes with the original manual!!! but not the phone. Great condition only a few minor scratches on the back like normal. The front is perfect! Email me with any questions. Others like this have sold for over $450. No Phone inside the box! All Sales Final. No refunds. Understand what you are buying. This auction does not come with the phone at all - just the box."

The seller is the Holy Land Gifts Store located in Jerusalem, Israel. But the seller will not sell it to anyone in Israel.

This item was first reported on Reddit after the price hit $180. It quickly increased to $3,000. Some Redditers jumped in and bid it higher -- but mysterious bidders counter-bid it into the stratosphere.

Why does anyone want an empty box?

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Friday, January 27, 2012

72 Poplar Landmarks Application Approved by CB2 -- Brooklyn Heights

The Executive Committee of Community Board 2 voted this week to approve, with modifications, a Landmarks Preservation Commission application for 72 Poplar St., the former police precinct building.

The application calls for extending the existing fourth floor, constructing a new fifth-floor addition and constructing a one-story rooftop addition on the building’s adjacent garage, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, which has more details.

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

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Senior Citizens Are Cocked and Locked; Gun Buyback This Saturday

What's going on with senior citizens lately? Over the last two weeks we've heard several stories of oldsters who "did what needed to be done."

- West Reading, Pa.: A 65-year-old man shot two teens, one fatally, as they tried to rob him Wednesday morning on a bike trail near the Schuylkill River. The teens knock the man off his bicycle and assaulted him, so he whipped out a handgun and shot them both. After investigating, police released the senior citizen and charged the surviving attacker and another participant. Berks Regional News via Reddit

- In Daytona Beach, Fla: Karen Granville, a 64-year-old fan of John Wayne, held a young car theft suspect at gunpoint in her backyard this past Tuesday morning as she waited for police to arrive. "I was watching 'Rio Bravo' before the scumbag came into my yard," Granville said. News Journal1 and News Journal2

- Also in Daytona Beach, Fla: On January 13, an 82-year-old Daytona Beach man grabbed his WWII-era handgun and killed an intruder wearing a ski mask and gloves. The man was trying to bang his way into the senior's house with a hammer and screwdriver. "I did what I had to do," Charles A. Robbins said of the 6 a.m. shooting. Daytona Beach News Journal

In the United States, more than 17 million people aged 65 years or older own a firearm. (APHA) The actions above fall in the general category of public service -- but public health officials are starting to worry about what will happen when a sizable chunk of these people get dementia.

Handgun manufactures, seeing a good thing, are increasingly designing and marketing guns just for seniors, and seniors are some of their best customers.

Is your grandmother packin'?

Unless she's gaga, better leave grandma's guns alone. She can probably shoot better than you.

But if she's too old to drive, she's probably too old to carry.  Try to convince her to drop off her spare firearms at the 66th and 77th Precinct's Gun Buyback Program, which takes place this Saturday, January 28.

According to Kensington Prospect, the buyback takes place at the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, located at 1200 Dean Street at Nostrand (in Brooklyn).

Gram will get a $200 bank card for each operable handgun and a $20 bank card for operable rifles and shotguns. If your grandma's like mine, that's roughly a cool thousand right there.

For more information, call the 66th Precinct Community Affairs Office at 718-851-5601.

Photo by Slushie, Creative Commons license

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Find the Changes In New Improved 30 Henry Street Proposal -- Brooklyn Heights

The Brooklyn Eagle has published a rendering of the modified 30 Henry Street design -- the one that was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on January 18. The approved design is the lower photo.

The original proposal for the new five-story, five-unit building at 30 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights (the former site of Brooklyn Eagle headquarters) -- the one that wasn't approved -- is shown on top.

Aside from the poor quality of the newer rendering, how many differences can you spot?

We notice the chimneys are white in the newer version.

The Eagle notes, "To the untrained eye, the new plan looks very similar to the original design that was submitted to the commission recently."

In December,the Brooklyn Heights Association's Executive Director Judy Stanton told the Brooklyn Eagle the building site "cries out for a distinctive and much more contemporary design than that which was shown to the BHA last week.

“Fortis has hired excellent architects in BKSK, and the BHA has respectfully asked them to return to the drafting board to create a building that celebrates our time."

Mission accomplished?

Modified Design for 30 Henry Street Unveiled  Brooklyn Eagle
- LPC Approves New 30 Henry Street Design in Brooklyn Heights
- A Century of Changes at 30 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights

Design by BKSK Architects

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Pretty Sewer Tunnels; Biased Lubavich Landlord; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Brooklyn Art Hackathon this weekend. Makerbot

- An open letter from one Brooklyn Lubavich (Orthodox Jewish) landlord demands that other landlords stop renting to non-Jews. Joe.My.God.

- Shooting in Sunset Park possibly a gang rubout. NY Daily News

- Southpaw closing? Brooklyn Vegan

- Bars with wifi AND Happy Hour. Brokelyn

- Charles Hynes will conduct a review into the death of cyclist Mathieu Lefevre, after revelations that NYPD withheld details of the crash from the victim’s family and failed to gather evidence at the scene. Streetsblog

- Diving into surprisingly pretty sewer tunnels beneath Bushwick. Gothamist

- The National Labor Relations Board has filed for a federal injunction to end an ongoing lockout at a 59-building apartment complex in Flatbush. TRD

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baluchi's Extends Its Indian Empire Into Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights is soon to have its very own Baluchi's Indian restaurant, on the north end of Henry Street near Cranberry Street. The spot, which will be ready "soon," according to the owner, can be seen to the right of Cranberry's, above.

This will bring to three the number of Indian restaurants in Brooklyn Heights, including Gandhi Palace on Montague (replaced Amin) and Curry Heights on Remsen

According to their website, there are roughly a dozen Baluchi's restaurants, most in Manhattan. (The Smith Street Baluchi's closed a couple of years ago.)

The Park Slope Baluchi's gets fairly decent reviews on Yelp, scoring 3.5 out of 5 stars. More reviewers rated it a 4 than any other grade.

A Grab-Bag of Park Slope Yelp Comments:

"The Chicken Tikka Masala was solid and the samosas crispy and delicious. The black daal was a little odd in that it included kidney beans."

"The restaurant also offers $9.95 lunch specials, and a $14.95 prix fixe menu. The prix fixe menu is the better of the two deals as it includes an entree (I recommend the chicken jalfrezi), rice, naan cucumber, raita, and mango chutney."

"All in all, not mind-altering Indian food, but good, solid Indian food when you crave it. I'll definitely go back."

"Great naan, great service, reasonably priced, and a great atmosphere. Very impressed overall."

"Solid tasty Indian food. Not the best I've ever had but the best in the area without a doubt. "

"The decor is gorgeous, the service is amazing, and the food is great. Baluchi's is our ultimate date spot in the hood. "

"We opened with samosas, I had a chicken spinach dish, Saagwala, my date had chicken curry. We also ordered poori. I thought the food was very good. "

Here's the menu from the Park Slope Baluchi's.

Photo by MK Metz

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Gowanus Whole Foods Decision Delayed for a Month

Chairwoman Meenakchi Srinivasan and the rest of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals put off making a find decision at yesterday's hearing on the Whole Foods Gowanus variance. They'll make a decision on February 28th.

Whole Foods Market is proposing to build a mega-market in a manufacturing district on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

More details, photos and a video of today's action at the Pardon Me For Asking Blog.

- Whole Foods Hearing Today at 1:30; End of Manufacturing In Gowanus?

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While We're On the Subject of Portland, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Venn Diagram: Portland Vs. Brooklyn. The Frisky

- Just like Portland: A free lecture on cooking bears, beaver and moose, in Brooklyn. Featuring a terrifying moose-face stew recipe. Brokelyn

- Ever more like Portland: Brooklyn guy offers artisanal pencil-sharpening class. Really. Gothamist

- Old Fulton buildings in search of new owner. Commenter says it's a flip. Brownstoner

- City Council Landmarks panel approves historic skyscraper district in Brooklyn. NY Times

- In a bid to nail down $60 million in funding, Mayor Bloomberg is planning to close, transform and then reopen 33 struggling city schools, and fire up to half their staff. Brooklyn Eagle

- MTA adds buses to Brooklyn's B61 bus route (Van Brunt, Columbia St., Atlantic Ave.) during evening rush. Brad Lander

- "Backwards wheelchair lady" is a locally-famous Bensonhurst character. MBTR and The Danja Zone via Brooklynian

- Google has changed its privacy policy, but that doesn't make it evil. TechCrunch

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

EPA Gowanus Canal Superfund Meeting Tonight in Brooklyn

Community Board 6 sent us a reminder that the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration's public meeting on the Gowanus Canal Superfund Feasibility Study takes place tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 24) at 7 PM. The location will be the auditorium of P.S. 58, 330 Smith Street.

The Draft Feasibility Study is available for download and review at:

Photo courtesy Dept. of City Planning

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Whole Foods Hearing Today at 1:30; End of Manufacturing In Gowanus?

The second, and likely the last, public hearing at NYC Board of Standards & Appeals on the Whole Foods variance application is today, Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.

You may be eager for organic roof-grown lettuce, but the Gowanus Institute sent us an email saying hold up a minute: allowing the Whole Foods (planned for 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, shown above ) will "be the beginning of the end of manufacturing activity in this immediate area, and that includes The Can Factory."

From the on-line petition: "Whole Foods Market is proposing to build regional, suburban-style mega-market in a thriving manufacturing district on an active industrial canal in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The proposed store will be nearly six times the allowable area for food stores in manufacturing-zoned areas in New York City. The Gowanus Institute studied Whole Foods Market's variance application, and in its report, recommends that BSA reject the application." (More explanation on the petition.)

There's also a a Facebook page.

The hearing takes place at  NYC Board of Standards & Appeals at 40 Rector Street (near West St) Manhattan. ‘R’ train to “Rector St.” A bus will leave from the Can Factory at exactly 1 p.m. if you want to comment.

- Gowanus Whole Foods Brownfield Cleanup Meeting

- Gowanus Whole Foods Going Even Greener, Building Half-Acre Greenhouse

Photo courtesy of Google Street View

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Family Wants Criminal Investigation of Son's Death in Bushwick; Police Stonewall

Last October, a truck dragged cyclist Mathieu Lefevre 40 feet on a street in Bushwick, then left the scene of the crash. Lefevre died, and police said he was at fault.

It took a Freedom of Information Act filing, but now the cyclist's parents have discovered that the NYPD took no data from the truck’s event data recorder, made no written description of the scene, and never sampled blood and paint marks on the truck’s front bumper.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the driver has been issued traffic summonses for failure to signal and failure to exercise due care -- but the NYPD has said there will be no criminal investigation.

Video evidence, which the police never looked at, show the truck turning right without signalling, running over Lefevre. As to the lack of photos of the blood smeared over the truck's bumper? A police checklist shows that the camera was broken.

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Who Knew 'High-Risk' Cargo Entered Country In Red Hook? And More Brooklyn Briefs

- New York pols are sounding an alarm over a plan to stop inspections of “high-risk” cargo entering the country at the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle

- Rapes and sexual assaults have tripled in Williamsburg and Greenpoint this year. L Magazine

- Elected officials gathered outside of Barclays Arena to express frustration over the broken promises at the Atlantic Yards site. Carroll Gardens Patch

- The last Brooklyn outpost of Blockbuster's once vast empire. Bensonhurst Bean

- Crop circle in Cadman Plaza Park. Brooklyn Eagle 

- Greenpoint “Nature Walk” is actually bleak, post-apocalyptic, and nearly devoid of nature. Brooklynian

- Elderly testify against alleged Brooklyn fraudster. NY Post

- Kiku Asian bistro and sake bar opens on the corner of Fifth and Lincoln Thursday. HPS

- Extremist Orthodox Jewish newspaper in Brooklyn pictured the White House controlled by Nazis. Then an extremist Jewish newspaper in Atlanta proposed assassinating President Obama. What happened next at Failed Messiah and Gawker

- Beautiful time-lapse video of Yosemite has also gone viral. Turn sound on, settle back. Vimeo

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Brooklyn Crab Opening Up Next to Ralph's Place

A new crab shack is going up in Red Hook, Brooklyn, right next to that unequaled monument to the human spirit, Ralph's Place.

The owners of Alma Restaurant on Columbia St. in Brooklyn are building the giant new eatery, Brooklyn Crab, at 24 Reed Street in Red Hook.

Brooklyn Crab's Facebook page says:
"This time around these two visionaries of Alma will whistle entirely to their own tune with food and a vibe that reflects their own passions; fishing, family and seafood.

"Brooklyn Crab, built on two decks overlooking the New York harbor, will offer seafood fare from all the way up the Atlantic coast and down to the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to an extensive raw bar, Brooklyn Crab will also serve, salads, soups, sandwiches and steak to please both vegetarian and carnivore pallets."

Hope it doesn't disturb the vibe at Ralph's.

More about Ralph's here.

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Crab, Facebook

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Rainy Day in Brooklyn Monday, With a Mother of a Geomagnetic Storm Tomorrow

Herman Behr Residence by MK Metz

Much of the ice and snow on the ground in Brooklyn will probably wash away this afternoon. According to the National Weather Service, get ready for rain, especially after 1 p.m., along with some fog.

Chance of precipitation is 80 percent, and temperatures will be in the 40s. Tuesday will be better, says NOAA: "Mostly sunny, with a high near 51."

Photo courtesy of NOAA
In addition to the rain, NOAA has extended its recent Space Weather Alert into Monday Tuesday, warning of the possibility of a minor massive magnetic storm, with an expected Geomagnetic K-index of 4 9.  The highest possible is 9.)

There is a slight fair chance of power grid or radio fluctuations. With a 3 on the Solar Radiation Scale of 1 - 5, passengers and crew in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes may be exposed to radiation risk.

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72 Poplar On Tonight's CB2 Agenda; NYU Expands; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Is Brooklyn's D.A. Charles Hynes hiding the details of sweetheart plea deals with Orthodox Jewish pedophiles from the public? Failed Messiah

- Plans for 72 Poplar Street, the former NYPD building in Brooklyn Heights, will be considered at CB2 meeting tonight. BHB

- They censored the nipples in the art at the Tea Lounge! Brooklynian

- NYU expands its empire in Downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle

- Franny's will be moving into the former Blockbuster space further up Flatbush, doubling its size and adding a private party room. Here's Park Slope and Grub Street

- The NYPD committed a Virginia man claiming to be a Navy SEAL to a psych ward, and later found out that he was in fact a Navy SEAL. Gothamist

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Man Killed By Subway at Nostrand Avenue Stop in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

A man was struck and killed by a southbound A train at the Nostrand Avenue station in Bedford-Stuyvesant Saturday afternoon, according to DNAinfo.

The man was hit by the train shortly after 4 p.m. inside the station, at Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street.

In an unrelated incident, a man was struck and killed by an L train in the East Village Saturday morning, halting service and forcing nearly 200 passengers to evacuate the subway.

And on Friday a person was killed on the tracks at the Borough Hall station in Downtown Brooklyn. More here

UPDATE: Dangerous weekend on the subway leaves four dead. More here.

Photo courtesy of MShades, Creative Commons license.

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Spike Lee's 'Red Hook Summer' Premiers at Sundance Sunday

Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer will premier at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan.22) at the Sundance Film Festival. This is Lee's first premier at the festival.

The film tells the story of a young boy from Atlanta whose mother leaves him for the summer with his preacher grandfather in a Red Hook housing project. The entire film was shot within a 10-block radius.

According to Rolling Stone, ten songs by Judith Hill ("Heal the World"), mostly soulful ballads, are featured in the film. (Mookie, the Sal's Famous pizza delivery boy who first appeared in Lee's 1989 film Do The Right Thing, will be making a reappearance as well.)

Lee gives an interview about his work on the film to Hollywood Reporter, here.

Photo courtesy IMDb

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow . . .In Brooklyn

The National Weather Service is calling for up to 4 inches of snow mixed with sleet and rain in all five boroughs between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, with the heaviest snow occurring Saturday morning.

A Winter Weather Advisory and Hazardous Weather Outlook remains in effect until 4 p.m Saturday. Temperatures will be in the upper 20s.

Use caution when driving.

Photo from January 2011 snow storm in Brooklyn Heights by MK Metz

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Century 21 and Target NOT Coming to Downtown Brooklyn; TJ Maxx Is

It is not true that Century 21 will be taking space at the new City Point development on the Fulton Mall, according to Tom Montvel-Cohen, a spokesperson for the City Point development team.

The New York Post report that the store would be taking 100,000 square feet “is incorrect,” Montvel-Cohen told the Brooklyn Eagle Thursday.

The Post's report that Target was also moving into City Point is also wrong, reports the Eagle.

In related news, the Eagle reports that TJ Maxx is coming to Fulton Mall. More here.

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After Complaints, DOT Tows Trucks Illegally Parked Along Bay Parkway

The NYPD and city Department of Transportation got praise from Brooklyn Councilman David G. Greenfield yesterday for towing commercial vehicles that have been parking and idle illegally overnight in residential areas along Bay Parkway in the Bensonhurst/Mapleton area.

This week the 66th Precinct towed trucks, vans and buses parked near Washington Cemetery that violated motor vehicle regulations such as not having an attached cab or license plates.

According to an email from Councilman Greenfield, this problem has plagued that section of Bensonhurst/Mapleton for years, but has become worse in recent months as commercial vehicles have encroached into Midwood.

Residents submitted numerous complaints to Greenfield about air and noise pollution from idling engines, lack of visibility for drivers and pedestrians from parked trucks, suspicious individuals hanging out between the trucks and large amounts of trash left behind by the drivers.

Greenfield says he's been working with the DOT, Department of Environmental Protection and NYPD over the past few months, and has requested that new signage be posted that clearly prohibits overnight commercial parking.

Photos by Google Streetview

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Fire at Pratt Institute Professor’s Summer Home Reveals Child Porn

Firefighters found a magazine with child porn while battling a blaze in a Brooklyn architecture professor's home at the Jersey shore. The magazine was stuffed behind a wall panel.

The Brooklyn Eagle reports that 76-year-old Gamal El-Zoghby designed and built the home more than 10 years ago. He named the house “The Parousium” from the Greek word “parousia,” meaning “presence or appearance.”

More here.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

LPC Approves New 30 Henry Street Design in Brooklyn Heights

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) yesterday approved a revised design for the "boring" five-story building (above right) proposed for 30 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights. The current building (above left), constructed in 1963, has housed the Brooklyn Eagle and its sister publications for about a dozen years.

According to the Eagle, Brooklyn Heights Association's Jane McGroarty told the LPC on Jan. 10 that the initial design was: “a mishmash of contextualism. There is nothing special about it, nothing that represents the best of this era. It’s too restrained, too timid, the whole result is boring.”

After hearing a range of opinions that generally expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal's sheer blandness, the LPC asked the design team to consider making some additional changes. These changes were approved by a vote of 9 - 1 yesterday. (No new rendering is available yet.)

The new design is not likely to please Henrik Krogius, editor of the Brooklyn Heights Press (which has moved from 30 Henry Street to offices in DUMBO). In a comment published yesterday, Krogius says the original design 'springs from a total misunderstanding of the building’s context, as well as a total lack of design “guts.”'

Curious to see what changes spurred the LPC to approve the design.

- A Century of Changes at 30 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights

- Photo of present-day Brooklyn Eagle courtesy of Property Shark
- Rendering of proposed condo courtesy of BKSK via Brownstoner

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Brooklyn Heights Cinema Gets Reprieve?

Landlord hits pause button on presenting plan to CB2.
 Fresh popcorn with real butter for a while longer?

According to the Brooklyn Heights Blog, the landlord of 70 Henry Street has withdrawn his proposal for a new structure there to Community Board 2’s Landmarks Committee. The building currently is the home of the beloved Brooklyn Heights Cinema.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the plan is to demolish the existing movie theater building and construct a new five-story residential building, which will ultimately require approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

According to the cinema's Facebook page, if it has to move, the business hopes to relocate at a location near by its home in Brooklyn Heights. In the meantime, a roster of special events is in the works, including Silent Films with live music by Liz Magnes on Sunday, February 26th at 7 .pm. More here.

- Landlord Wants to Tear Down Brooklyn Heights Cinema, Build 5-Story Building

Photo by MK Metz

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New Indian Restaurant Coming to Brooklyn Heights; Century 21 at CityPoint? And More Brooklyn Briefs

- Ditmas Park has been reeling since Josh Rubin, the owner of Whisk Cafe & Bakery  was found murdered earlier this month. Now the entire contents of his cafe will be up for sale this Saturday. Brokelyn

- Century 21 may joining Target at the new CityPoint project on Fulton Street. New York Post

- An Indian restaurant is coming to the North Heights. Brooklyn Eagle

- Guy who looks like someone you might know sought in the holdup of Greenpoint Dunkin' Donuts. NY Times

- Public plaza coming to Fulton and Flatbush. Brownstoner

- Wrap-up of the CB2 meeting about traffic changes at the BQE entrance ramp leading to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Brownstoner

- Mentally challenged people had no idea why Wikipedia went black yesterday, even though Wikipedia provided a full explanation. Typical comment: "If there's no more Wikipedia how am I going to do book projects, will I actually have to read the book." Gawker  

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Love Life of Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi -- inventor, father of long distance radio transmission, and winner of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun (Wikipedia) -- had a tangled love life, and the Brooklyn Eagle of 1902 payed close attention to the affairs of his heart.

On January 21 the Eagle questioned Marconi in depth about his breakup with his fiancee, Josephine Holman. "He Appears Much Downcast," the headline ran. "The distinguished electrician was evidently much broken up and in a state of the deepest dejection."

To enlarge type right click and "view image."

The Eagle reporters went on to question Marconi at great length, and the "the appallingly driven inventor," as Erik Larson describes him, showed remarkable restraint as he patiently and repeatedly declared that the decision was final, and that he and his ex-fiancee were no longer speaking.

The next day, January 22, Marconi prepared to set sail on a voyage across the Atlantic on the cruise ship Philadelphia. His ex-fiancee had already set sail with her mother on a different cruise ship, the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.

The Eagle took this opportunity to question the heartbroken inventor again. "I can add nothing to what I said yesterday about the breaking of my engagement," he told the reporters. As Marconi examined the ship's wireless teleegraphy instruments, the Eagle noted, "He looked careworn and like a man who had undergone a heavy bereavement." The end of the article gives brief mention to the possibility of wireless communication between Cuba and Tampa.

It appears that Marconi got over the rejection. Three years later, in March of 1905, he married the Hon. Beatrice O'Brien, a daughter of Edward Donough O'Brien, 14th Baron Inchiquin. They had three daughters, Degna, Gioia and Lucia, and a son, Giulio.

The marriage lasted 19 years. The Marconis divorced in 1924, and, at Marconi's request, the marriage was annulled in 1927, so he could remarry. (Beatrice also remarried.)

In June of 1927, Marconi married again -- to Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali. According to Wikipedia, Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was Marconi's best man at the wedding. They had one daughter, Maria Elettra Elena Anna. This marriage also ended in divorce.

For unexplained reasons, Wikipedia says, Marconi left his entire fortune to his second wife and their only child, and nothing to the children of his first marriage.

Somewhere in between these marriages and proposals, Marconi was also romantically linked to native Brooklynite Inez Milholland Boissevain, an athlete, attorney, WWI news correspondent and women's rights activist. She died tragically at a young age, soon after collapsing while riding "a huge white horse" at the head of a parade, "draped in robes, and looking startlingly beautiful."
*   *   *

A Few Brooklyn Marconi Connections:

Marconi established one of his Marconi Land Stations (an actual "radio shack") in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. In 1909, David Sarnoff was appointed as night manager of the Sea Gate station. Eventually he ended up as head of RCA -- Radio Corporation of America.

The German scientist Ferdinand Braun, with whom Marconi shared the Nobel Prize,  lived the last year of his life under house arrest during the Great War at his son's Brooklyn apartment. He died in Brooklyn in April 1918.

Marconi's daughter Gioia Marconi Braga founded the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation (now called the Marconi Society), headquartered for years at Brooklyn's Polytechnic Institute (it has since moved to Columbia).  George Bugliarello, Polytechnic's President and founder of MetroTech, was an ardent supporter, a president of the Marconi Society, and on the board.

Gioia Braga was also on the board of Brooklyn Polytechnic. Her son Michael is presently on the board of the Marconi Society.

There may be a Brooklyn branch of the Marconi's still around. (Drop us a line!)

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hazardous Weather Outlook Issued for Brooklyn Tonight (Tuesday)

The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Brooklyn and the surrounding areas for tonight (Tuesday)and Wednesday morning:




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New Venture Capitalist In Brooklyn

According to Crain's, Charlie O'Donnell, a veteran in the city's burgeoning tech community, Tuesday announced the launch of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, which will provide seed money of $300,000 to $500,000 to tech startups in the New York City area.

Mr. O'Donnell is starting Brooklyn Bridge Ventures after working at First Round Capital and Union Square Ventures, two of the city's standout venture capital firms.

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Columbia Waterfront Park Meeting; More On Brooklyn Heights Cinema; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Join the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and Regional Plan Association for a meeting on January 18th to plan for Columbia Waterfront Park -- a new public open space on Columbia Street between Kane and Degraw Streets. Cobble Hill Association

- Brooklyn Heights Cinema owner comments about what's going on at 70 Henry Street. BHB

- Brooklyn Councilman Lew Fidler has officially launched his campaign for a State Senate seat left open because of scandal. NY1

- The Brooklyn Historical Society has launched an exhibit about the Lefferts family that you can visit from the comfort of your own home. Brooklyn Before Now

- Perk of the job: Two TSA screeners who stole $40,000 from an air traveler's luggage at JFK were sentenced to just six months in prison. WSJ

- National housing analyst warns that the U.S. housing market may be in a “death spiral,” CNN reported. Via TRD

- The EPA worries about risks to our drinking water in New York fracking rules. Propublica

- Tickets to The Dark Knight Rises are already on sale. The movie opens July 19. NY Magazine

- Pets can eat real food. Fast Company

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Jewish Man Charged in Antisemitic 'Hate' Crimes

In a bizarre turn, police have charged a Jewish man in the latest string of antisemitic hate crimes, including spray-painted swastikas and the words “Die Jews” on garage doors in Midwood, Brooklyn.

According to the NY Daily News, David Haddad was arrested at work Monday after the NYPD traced at least one of his harassing phone calls.

This news comes just a few days after finding that another anti-Jewish "hate" firebombing in Midwood was probably an insurance scam, according to the the Daily News.

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Wikipedia Going Black Wednesday

You may find yourself staring at a blank screen tomorrow when you try to look up some bit of essential information on Wikipedia.

Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, has announced that the online people's encyclopedia will "black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday protest against proposed legislation in the United States of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives (and the same bill called the PROTECTIP Act -- PIPA -- in the U.S. Senate).

Wikipedia and many other major online content providers say that the new bills would seriously damage the free and open Internet. Social media sites like Facebook or YouTube— or any site with user generated content—would have to police and preemptively censor their own sites, forcing huge liability costs onto countless Internet companies.

You can read more about SOPA and PIPA at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

New York City's 2012 Idiotarod Announced, Probably

Idiots, get your shopping carts ready: The 2012 New York City Idiotarod will take probably place on Saturday, February 4.

We say probably because not only do the organizers sometimes deny they are the organizers, but because "sabotage such as tripping competitors . . . and the spreading of misinformation such as false route information is common."*

The Idiotarod consists of costumed teams of five idiots pushing lavishly decorated shopping carts over a five-mile-long course in the freezing cold, usually winding up in Brooklyn. There are multiple rules, the most important being that "any team wearing spandex is disqualified."

You should probably be ready to roll out from Zucotti Park at 10 a.m. Registration may or may not open on January 24. For full information, visit  Idiotarod NYC 2012. Or maybe not.

* In 2009, team Violent Gnomes won the award for Best Sabotage. Two members dressed as judges, taking bribes and giving bad directions.

- Idiotarod 2008 
- Idiotarod 2009 photos in National Geographic

Photo: Team Remus; courtesy of Corporation X

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Ratner Celebrates Barclays Topping Out; Perv Caught Taking Girl's Picture; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Bruce Ratner, Nets Basketball, and city officials Thursday celebrated the topping out of Barclays Center arena. Brooklyn Eagle

- Police arrest 40-year-old man taking picture of 9-year-old girl in hallway. cbs local

- Meet the Miss NYC contestant who wants to eat dinner with Hitler. Gothamist

- The Occupy encampment has become a band of homeless protesters with no place to go. Brooklyn Eagle

- Even the author of the SOPA copyright bill is a copyright violator. NY Magazine

- Stephen Colbert to explore run for president in South Carolina. Politico

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Internet Slowdown: Space Weather? Chinese? Friday the 13th?

Is the Internet broken? 16 major routers in the U.S. are experiencing 100% packet loss as of 2 a.m. according to Internet Traffic Report (see graphic on left).

According to a poster on Reddit, some online gamers were informed mid-game that "the internet for all of north america was having issues."

Today's space weather is pretty active, too. According to SpaceWeather, "The partially-eclipsed C-flare was strong enough to make waves of ionizaton in Earth's upper atmosphere. This, in turn, disturbed the normal propagation of low-frequency radio waves over Europe."

Or, maybe it's the Chinese.

Or maybe it's Friday the 13th!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Landlord Wants to Tear Down Brooklyn Heights Cinema, Build 5-Story Building

The next little N. Henry Street building to go.
The landlord of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema wants to tear down the sweet little Brooklyn Heights Cinema at 70 Henry Street to make way for a new five-story structure, the Brooklyn Paper reports.

Next Wednesday, building owner "Tom Caruana" will present plans for a new structure at 70 Henry St. at Community Board 2’s Landmarks Committee, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

The theater’s proprietor, Kenn Lowy, told the paper that he won’t let the theater disappear — even if it means moving the cinema to DUMBO.

Lowy bought the cinema last year from Norman Adie, who was convicted in a Ponzi scheme. At that time, Lowy signed a one year lease.

Here's a puzzler: Property Shark lists the building's owner as Ridgeton Poultry Inc. as of last June 22.

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Three Crappy Charter Schools Being Shut Down; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Historic District preservationist Otis Pearsall urged the LPC to reject the proposed building design at 30 Henry Street as “antithetical to the goals of the district.” Brooklyn Eagle

- Cabbie accused of raping passenger in Williamsburg: "I do not know how my DNA got in her vagina." Gothamist

- Brooklyn Paper's ex-editor Gersh Kuntzman wrote the CB2 roundup for The Local last night.

- Three crappy charter schools are being shut down in Williamsburg. Brooklyn Eagle

- Eight official Brooklyn neighborhoods L Magazine refuses to recognize. L Magazine

- Does Fort Greene really need two Targets? And more real estate questions. Racked

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Donate to Victims of Tuesday's Fire in Bushwick

Hayley Blatte has started a Fundly fund-raising effort for his friends who lost everything in Tuesday's fire in Bushwick that left one man in critical condition.

Here's is his post:

Yesterday I helped my dear friends Monica Yi, Darrelle Vary and Robin Newman as their Brooklyn apartment was destroyed by an electrical fire. Thankfully they are all alive, but one of them is in critical condition at Bellevue after a five story fall. They lost everything including their brand-new puppy. Luckily their two other animals, a cat and dog, were pulled from the rubble but are in critical condition and being treated for smoke inhalation at Blue Pearl in Carroll Gardens. 

Any help, resources, or donations for food/CLOTHING(men's and women's - they are both small so any size is ok)/pet supplies/medical bills would be much appreciated. Darrelle and Monica are staying with me until they find a more permanent home.

Donate here.

Or, if you don't want to donate via Fundly, a fundraiser is being held Wednesday, January 18. Details here.

More at Brooklynian.

Photo by Dave Hogg, Creative Commons license

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Oy! Midwood 'Hate Crime' Probably Insurance Scam

They thought they were marching to protest a hate crime.
After vandals torched cars and scribbled Nazi swastikas in an Orthodox Jewish part of Midwood back in November, residents and representatives from all over the city marched to protest bias and hate. Even members of Occupy Wall Street showed up for the lovefest.

It was touching, really, how many supporters from so many religions and races showed up on a Sunday morning: there was Council Member Jumaane Williams, Council Members Brad Lander, Tish James and Steve Levin, Assemblymen Dov Hikind and Bill Colton, State Senator Eric Adams, mayoral candidates Scott Stringer and Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel and others.

Time to get back to the cynicism, folks! The "hate" firebombing was probably an insurance scam, the Daily News reports. As for those 27 Corona beer bottles found at the scene? They appear to have been wiped clean of fingerprints, suggesting the work of someone meticulous, not someone lashing out in hate, a source told the News.

UPDATE: For real hate crimes, a reader has sent in these suggested resources:


Photo from video by Gifterphotos

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You'll Probably Be Drinking This Tea Very Soon

It's called guayusa tea, it's from the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, it's being sold by a company called Runa, which is run by a couple of guys from Brooklyn, and it's the beverage you will probably be drinking from now on.

This is more than just a hipster trend. Guayusa has been cultivated for over 2,000 years by the indigenous families of Ecuador, who treasure it for it's ability to both keep them up all night to hunt, and to remember and understand their dreams in the early morning.

Guayusa has more caffeine than any tea and double the antioxidants of green tea. Its flavor, according to those who have tried it (we haven't) is pleasant, mild and sweet. The native Kichwa people say the tea gives them "mental strength and courage," which in English translates to "Kick Ass Tea."

The nice thing about Runa is that the company purchases 100% of its guayusa leaves from indigenous farming families (roughly 1,000 farmers), and puts money into a “social premium fund” for workers to use for development projects.

According to Huff Post, the partnering Runa Foundation has two goals: to allow Kichwa farmers to "participate in the global economy using renewable resources" and to conserve the rainforest.

The company's socially-conscious business plan has won all sorts of awards and grants, according to the New York Times, and the tea is now available at several outlets including Whole Foods, Kings, the Vitamin Shoppe and Wegmans.

Or you can visit their website and read about the history of guayusa.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brooklyn Kindergartens and 'The Boa Constrictor Problem'

A combination of neighborhood demographics and “the boa constrictor” problem may make for some very overcrowded kindergartens in Brooklyn next September, District 15 CEC President Jim Devore told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Not only are certain Brooklyn neighborhoods baby magnets, but it seems a virtual tsunami of young'uns were born across the country peaking in 2007, creating a baby boomlet and a "bulge" of 5-year-olds that schools will have to deal with next year and every year thereafter as they work their way through the grades, like a goat working its way through a boa constrictor. More here.

Photo by Brno Vaňkovka, Wikipedia

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Brooklynites Do Weird Things with Dead Christmas Trees; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Sad comment about a closing shop on Smith Street. PMFA

- Dead Christmas trees suspended under BQE, for art. Gothamist . . . Meanwhile, vandals torch 25 Christmas trees in Fort Greene Park. Brooklyn Paper

- The rather dull brick condo building proposed for a 30 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights -- the present home of the Brooklyn Eagle -- is going before the Landmark's Commission today. WSJ

- Noted educator Diane Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education) will be talking about education tonight at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill. Brooklyn Eagle

- Professional kid critics review Downtown Brooklyn's new Shake Shack. Excerpt: "We obviously ordered shakes because it's the Shake Shack." Eater

- Brooklyn man critical after jumping five stories from a burning building. NY1

- The family of a Canadian man struck and killed by a truck while riding his bike in Brooklyn has sued the NYPD to release the accident records. Brooklyn Eagle

- This is why everyone is suddenly talking about Downton Abbey. Gawker

- The TSA is frantically defending its decision to confiscate a frosted cupcake from a Massachusetts woman at a Las Vegas airport. Huff Post

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