Crosstown Local Photo Du Jour: Au Contraire

Fuck it NYS

The dissent here was done via Sharpie Marker— as opposed to yours truly’s middle finger)— but the sentiment is more or less the same. On a related note, Airbnb’s advertising campaign (so as to win over the hearts and minds of New Yorkers) has merited attention from the New York Times. This article regarding the “sharing economy” is also quite interesting. Pardon me for asking, but if money is exchanged isn’t that commerce?

P.S.: Am I the only person who is wondering exactly how many of these depicted Airbnb “hosts” are paying the applicable taxes for and have permission from their landords for engaging in this “sharing”? Anyone?

A New York Shitty Op Ed: Conde Nasty

  1. CNscreencap

(Or: How to Spend One’s Time and Money In Greenpoint Like a “Local”)

This tome (as screencapped at left) has been brought to my attention by a number of my fellow Greenpointers. Some would be considered “natives”, others “transplants”— and a few might even qualify as “hipsters” (which seems to be a catch-all for “transplants” of a certain age). Ordinarily these groups are at each other’s throats— at least online. The Internet, after all, is the proverbial bathroom wall for malcontents.

Speaking as a “transplant” (14 years in the 11222 and counting) who, in some circles, would qualify as a hipster but has the honor of counting a fair number of “natives” as friends I have to applaud Conde Nast for enabling something I have long, long wanted to see: unity. No one— and I mean NO ONE— in my circle likes this article. Sure this is not the same thing as, say, all of us pooling our collective expertise, resources and interests as folks are doing in Crown Heights. But community unity, albeit via abject hatred, is better than no unity at all. What’s more, if one wants to see a community adept in the art of anger there really is no place better than Greenpoint. Just like Michelangelo or Leonardo DaVinci, we are the true masters of malcontent.

Before I proceed I would like to make a few things perfectly clear:

1. It is not my intent to malign any one person or business featured in Conde Nast’s feature. I know a few of these folks and have patronized their businesses on occasion. They’re good people.
2. It is not my intent to vilify the “natives” either. Most of them are good people as well. There is no one “demographic” here that monopolizes the dubious honor of being assholes. Trust me.
3. Rather, I would like to present an alternative approach to how to visit our fair burgh “like a local” because…
4. what seems to have been lost on the author of this tome is (by and large) “locals” here do not have the money to spend at the establishments they elected to feature. This is because due to the fact that, just like Williamsburg the cost of living here (Read: RENT) is ridiculously, stupendously, mind-bogglingly high.

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5. In other words: I am going to get nasty on the Conde for selling this community short. And this they have. BIG TIME. To this end I took a couple of walks today (albeit in north ‘Point— McCarren and McGolrick Heights, you’re on your own) to see what the “locals” are doing.

First stop: the Manhattan Avenue Kayak Launch.

Any “local” will tell you that after 1″ of rain (much less last night’s deluge) the “CSOs” discharge sewage into the Creek.

I suppose this would be considered as unseemly to travellers, but to locals it is rather fascinating to see life’s detritus.

Especially when the odd prophylactic(s?) manifest.

Is this “news” to us? No. Do we find it disgusting? Yes. But what really puzzles/disconcerts us (as I ascertained by talking to a few folks enjoying this public space) is this:

This.

A manifold number of boats moored most assuredly without the permission of the owners of said property. Some of these boats are “domiciles”.

And especially this.

I was told by a fellow “local” enjoying a smoke in this “park” this fellow moved his boat so as to clear the path for the recently dredging of the creek (because, as all locals know, it is a Superfund site). This watercraft was formerly “parked” on the premises of 49 Ash Street.

Greenpointers are not the least bit shy when it comes to vandalism.

What’s more, some are downright pithy in their delivery. My inner history nerd squeals with delight!

It can also take on an edgier tone (as spotted on West Street at India Street, also by Paul Richard). This is what happens when “local” population becomes acutely aware that:

  • The “new and improved” Greenpoint is not for us.
  • The greater vandalism— blight if you will— is not the handiwork of “street artists”. Rather, it is the aftermath of rampant speculation and greed at the behest of developers.
  • The 2005 rezone coupled with the 2008 real estate bubble popping did a real job on this once “vibrant” working class community.

  • They raze, someone else writes about (and profits from) it and we live with it.

One more good rain storm and methinks this fence is gonna fall. We’ll see.

Since the East River Ferry is no longer serving Greenpoint, I opted to swing by and see how my fellow “locals” were enjoying the India Street Pier…

This lass had no time for my camera— and apparently my camera had no memory to record the fellow hanging out and scratching lotto tickets.

Java Street “Pop Up Park”! We “locals” enjoy our “open spaces”.

And when we don’t we simply toss a park bench into the East River. Or something.

Spotted at West and Kent Street: a pigeon with a broken neck.

And here’s the cause: big shiny glass windows— but I am getting way too grim here. Let’s swing over to Franklin Street— and my destination of choice.

“Jail Bear” has graced the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Franklin Street for 1 1/2 years. He (?) has become a mascot of sorts.

The “locals” who patronize WNYC Transmitter Park with their children often stop so the young ‘uns can tell “JB” about their day. Or simply say “Hi.”

How do a great many “locals” here eat? Very simple:

Courtesy of our local food pantry and soup kitchen. Perhaps Conde Nast— or its readership— would be kind enough to tender a donation?

How do the “locals” shop? This is best ascertained on Manhattan Avenue (which is also in Greenpoint).

On the way I bumped into Josef in front of Christina’s. Which brings me to a complaint about Conde Nast’s tome:

What about Polish food?

Well, Christina’s is good. Here are a few more recommendations:

Shopping here ain’t as easy as it used to be.

But if what I saw outside our “new” local houseware/general merchandise store today at 3:51 pm is any indication, the “locals” are really excited about DII.

This is because *gasp* despite the glamorous image my fair community has courtesy of “Girls” (never watched it) and real estate/tourism hype the reality is this “cool” neighborhood has an underbelly: it is called the “working class”, addiction, homelessness and poverty.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Conde Nast.

P.S.: I “get” that “Conde Nast” is targeting a certain “demographic”. But speaking as someone— a “transplant”— who just finished a wonderful week as “tour guide” for her parents, there’s a lot more to this community— and New York City— than Franklin Street. Why not encourage folks to go “outside” their “comfort zone” and explore what makes this community truly wonderful?

The “nuggets” of weirdness, if you will.

We’re quite polite.

Yeah, I took the robot.

Want to “eat” like a local? Hit the Acapulco Deli & Restaurant or Casanova.

There’s one thing that does not have a price. It is human interaction.

After I saw my parents off and wound down today’s shutter-bugging I swung by this establishment. Therein I purchased margarita mix. The wonderful lady behind the counter (Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N Roll” was playing for the patrons’ edification) wished me a wonderful margarita evening. I corrected her: this will be a margarita afternoon! She laughed.

That’s how we “locals” roll in Greenpoint.

New York Shitty Photos Du Jour: Good Friday Tidings From Union Square

Or: What is wrong with this picture?

Today the Mister took the day off and we opted to take a sojourn into “the city”. Our first stop was Union Square. There we saw a number of fascinating things. Follows are a few selections.

This young lady who— for reasons which do not need to be outlined— elicited a great deal of “interest”.

And this fellow, Felix Morelo, drawing faces (as he is known to do) with sidewalk chalk. They lead to the “Kissing Spot”.

Here he is giving yours truly a “thumbs up”.

And here he is getting a verbal reprimand from this public space’s rent-a-cops and parks staff. They were not amused.

It was explained to Mr. Morelo that he is not to engage in this (clearly) disruptive, destructive behavior because they would have to clean it up.

Once again, gentle readers: he was drawing a “Kissing Spot”. With sidewalk chalk. You want to know why yours truly dislikes public/private parks “partnerships”, gentle readers? You just saw it. Sure, the proponents this arrangement like to extol upon its financial benefits. However, there is a down-side to this kind of thing: “gate-keepers” are brought in to enforce “standards”— and those standards can (and often do) reach this level of utter absurdity. Sue Bee said it best:

Sidewalk chalk. Are you fucking kidding me?

New York Shitty Photos/Video Du Jour: Wish You Were Here

Today yours truly decided to take a stroll along the waterfront and see what’s shaking (in addition to the pier).

Unlike my previous visit, the pier was open to the public.

Whether or not it is supposed to be is anyone’s guess.

I’ll leave you, gentle readers, to draw your own conclusions.

I quickly ascertained I was not alone.

Evidence of recent merry-making was spotted.

Welcome to Greenpoint.

For shits and giggles I decided to hang around until the next ferry came by. Sure, we Greenpointers do not have (direct) access to this amenity— but we can wave at it!

For those of you who are wondering Greenpoint has been without ferry service since February 13, 2014. If there were, say, a few luxury residential towers here— more specifically, residents inhabiting said towers who(se wallets) will get the ear of their elected officials— do you honestly think this situation would have been allowed to persist as it has? Really? But of course we do not have luxury towers much less luxury tower residents— at least yet— so we, the hoi polloi, will just have to wait. And wait…

Live From The GWAPP Meeting*

Spoiler: the “vote” was eighteen for and seven against. What I found particularly intriguing is one person purporting to represent three different “member groups” of GWAPP (Barbara Vetell, a veritable “army of one”) was allowed to vote three times. That’s “democracy” Greenpoint-style, folks! It makes yours truly yearn for the “old school” methods of Tammany. E.g.; before election day, you grow a beard. You vote sporting said beard. You go home and shave it down to a mustache. Then, you vote again. Then you go home, shave your face entirely and vote a third time. In the clarity of hindsight (and this evening’s convocation), this is downright quaint— and dare I say “cute”— by comparison. It should also be noted that neither Steve Levin nor Joe Lentol (or their representatives) were present at this meeting. I stand corrected:

Part I:

Part II:

  • The matter of GWAPP’s finances are discussed. Pay careful attention to their anticipated funds. They include GREF grants (remember who is in charge of this, readers?)  and money from Councilman Levin.
  • Christine Holowacz announces that a lease is being procured for the Greenpoint Boathouse. Presumably this would be 51 Ash Street.
  • Barbara McGlamery touts that GWAPP’s website got 2,000 a hits a month as of November 2013 but has fallen since.

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

  • Del Teague speaks against the new by laws.
  • Barbara Vetell speaks on the behalf of three organizations (and was rewarded accordingly by giving three votes regarding changing these by laws).
  •  At 5:38 you can watch Jens Rasmussen (who later voted on the behalf of the North Brooklyn Boat Club, an ostensible not-for-profit organization**).

Part VI:

  • Two words: WATCH THIS. (The lady who speaks starting at 1:19 kicks ass!)

Part VII:

  • Dewey interacts with a couple of fellow citizens while the “vote” is being conducted. The question being raised is over the addition of new member organizations. What follows is not pretty.

Part VIII:

Then the “transition “team” comes in: Rich Mazur, Barbara McGlamery (AKA: Mrs. Adam Perlmutter) and Trina McKeever will comprise the “selection committee” charged with picking members for a new board. That’s the bad news. The good news: they’ll have a(nother) public meeting later this month— and I have every intention of filming it. Thanks GWAPP 2.0! And oh yeah: those ostensible “member groups” who voted themselves out of a so-called “community organization”, in one case in triplicate, what are they going to get out of this?

UPDATE, March 6, 2014 2:52 p.m.: Looks likes the North Brooklyn Boat Club received not one, not two, but three “GREF” awards. My oeraonal favorite is as follows:

I know. Shocking…

*Or: Darth Sidious manifests himself.

**The North Brooklyn Boat Club is registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Office Database of Corporations. The address listed is Dewey Thompson’s residence. However, as of 3/6/2014, the North Brooklyn Boat Club is NOT a registered charitable organization per the same-said Attorney General’s Charities Database:

Any/all donations to the North Brooklyn Boat Club are handled via Open Space Alliance. Of which Dewey is a Board member. Can you say eating your cake and keeping it too? At $150.00 a person and a two person minimum for a four hour workshop (which comes out to roughly $72.00 an hour) I cannot exactly say I do not understand Mr. Rasmussen’s “interest”. However, it is a conflict of interest. Some people have a problem with that kind of thing. What’s really interesting is the North Brooklyn Boat Clubs’s applications for Exxon Mobil money (“GREF”: which we have established is being handled by Rich Mazur— who will also be part of GWAPP’s “nominating committee”) money are via GWAPP. Once Again: the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s “fundraising” is handled by Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. Guess what kids, Dewey Thompson is a chair on both GWAPP and OSA!

Hear me, Conflict if Interest Board? Steve Levin? Joe Lentol? Anyone?

UPDATE, 10:02 a.m.: I love the smell of spam in the morning!

Quicklink: Good Times At 95 Clay Street

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When I saw this item on Gothamist my jaw hit my desk. I can assure you, gentle readers, this was not due to shock. Hardly. Rather your truly’s first apartment in Greenpoint was at 95 Clay Street. That was over a decade ago— and I can assure you it was a total and utter nightmare.* If this latest episode is to believed, things have not changed much. Those of you who are so inclined can read a little more about 95 Clay “back in the day” by clicking here, here and here. As for 156 India, I offer this and this for your perusal. In closing I would like to remind everyone that while Ms. Nealis’s alleged conduct is thoroughly reprehensible, she would not have felt free to behave in such a manner if our enforcement agencies (and elected officials) had nipped this in the proverbial bud. Years ago.

*Including, but not limited to:

  • Frequent hot water outages. Apparently there was not only a residential (think: for a house) hot water heater pressed into service to service an eight unit building. The thermostat was broken so when it would get “hot” the “Super” would simply turn it off.
  • An electrical outage on the apartments on the top floor lasting days. This was probably caused by…
  • Rainwater leaking through the roof.
  • Broken mailboxes. Mail theft was pervasive.
  • An illegal apartment in the basement.
  • Trips to housing court.
  • Harassment— including having my locks filled with glue, verbal harassment and having my mailbox ripped open.

This is the short list. Any and all who have the misfortune of living in this building may want to check and see if a rent-freeze/rent reduction is still in place regarding the mailboxes.

Greenpoint Video Du Jour: Welcome To New York, It’s Happening Now

Only 50 minutes until the weekend’s over, Greenpoint…

Now Coming To The Silver Screen: Joe “373 Scam Avenue” Loiacono

URnotalone

That’s right folks: a mere six months have passed since this fellow was charged with a litany of downright nasty criminal acts and now two brave documentarians have not only decided his is a story worth telling but the Kickstarter community concurred! Follows is Ashley and Arielle’s “pitch”. I have bold-faced my favorite passages and added commentary as I have seen fit. Enjoy!

Set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Joe’s trinket shop symbolizes a fusion of two worlds: where traditional American-Italian ideals meet a new wave of hipsters. (Ed. Note: I am going to go out on a limb here and say if the “Italian Community” thereabouts learned that this fellow apparently represents them they would not happy.) U R Not Alone depicts the evolution of an unlikely friendship between this controversial man and two young women and continues with their dilemma once he is arrested. As they delve deeper into investigating Joe’s crimes and past, they bring audiences on their moral roller coaster ride – questioning the intrinsic societal predicaments he stands for. (Ed. Note: Here’s a “powerful moral dilemma”; you glorifying someone who repeatedly stole security deposits from people, attempted to assault his neighbor with a chainsaw (and as such was hit with a restraining order which he immediately violated) and has an extensive record of domestic violence and sexual assault.*) At a time when cultural and moral values are being re-assessed, Joe’s compelling character demands all who engage with him to challenge what is good, who is bad, what fits in, and what does not. How are those who do not quite fit the mold treated, and is it just?

A LITTLE MORE: In the fall of 2011 we met Joe: an overweight, generally shirtless man – adorned with eclectic jewelry, a fake guitar, and a very large mouth. U R Not Alone follows one man’s struggle with the law and society at large. His story has continuously challenged us with provocative questions and powerful moral dilemmas that will surely stir audiences and confront them in the same right. The film not only has the potential to demonstrate ambiguities, injustices, and manipulations of the American law system, but also highlights and challenges the roles of documentary filmmakers, their subjects, and the responsibility they have to one another as people.

Over the last year, we have followed this man on his path to self-destruction through alcohol, drugs, and false hopes. As we became better acquainted with Joe, we saw a side of him that nobody else seemed to. We watched as an entire neighborhood dismissed, and put away a man that they simply did not understand. (Ed. Note: “not understand” = objecting to being chased down the street with a chainsaw.)

The film depicts the evolution of an unlikely friendship between this controversial character and two young girls trying to capture his story, and continues with our dilemma once he is arrested. How much do we trust this man, and how far do we go for him? What do we see in Joe that the rest of the world does not? Are we being conned?

At a time when cultural and moral values are being re-assessed, Joe’s compelling character demands all who engage with him to challenge what is good, who is bad, what fits in, and what does not. How are those who do not quite fit the mold treated, and is it just?

Follows are a few of yours truly favorite “teasers.” What I found particularly interesting is how this documentary seems to be more about its makers than its “subject”. I love a steaming cup of narcissism in the morning!

Ride to Rikers from Ashley Benzwie on Vimeo.

Kiss the Girl – U R Not Alone from Ashley Benzwie on Vimeo.

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Any and all interested in learning more about this sterling endeavor can do so by clicking here. WARNING/CAVEAT: Some eye and/or mind bleach might be required afterward— so do not say I did not warn you!

*Special thanks goes out to one of Joe’s neighbors and 373 Scam Avenue for the “moral focus” here.

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: On The Waterfront

December 20, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Fuck This Shit, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

This missive was captured today, December 20th 2012 at the Java Street “Pop-Up” Park. Words honestly fail me (please humor yours truly: she’s sick and her site appears to be as well). Methinks “disgusting” will suffice…

UPDATE, December 21, 2012: I have brought this to the head of the 94th’s attention. Deputy Inspector Hurson has assured me they are going to look into it.

Now At 74 Kent Street: Stop Work Order

December 20, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Fuck This Shit, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Many of you have undoubtedly noticed the blog has been quite sporadic of late. I can assure you, gentle readers, there is a very sound reason for this: I have acquired the cold/sinus yuckiness that is making the rounds hereabouts. Nonetheless, today I decided to venture out for a short walk. If there’s one thing yours truly acquires quite quickly it is “cabin fever”. It was during said peregrinations I stumbled upon this freshly issued Stop Work Order. I find it fascinating for a number of reasons. Among them:

1. First you have work without a permit in a landmark district. That’s pretty bad. But wait folks it gets even better— and by better I mean worse!

2. Not even 24 hours before the above-listed complaint was called in there was a presentation given to Community Board 1′s Land Use Committee seeking a variance to convert the above-depicted property from F4 (Factory Industrial) into market rate residential apartments replete with a penthouse! How do I know this you ask? Very simple: I attended the aforementioned meeting!

Given my feelings about commercial/manufacturing space being pressed into service as luxury apartments, dear readers, you can imagine I had a few things to say about this— and say them I did. Nonetheless, I got quite a chuckle when I passed by today only to discovered to see these fellows have proceeded to work anyway. Do what you damned well please, pay the fines (cost of business) and deal with any semblance of civil process later. If there is one thing 239 Banker Street has taught us it is: this is the Greenpoint way!

UPDATE, 4:23 p.m.: It has been brought to my attention that the above-cited structure might actually be legit! It may have been put in place so LPC (the Landmarks Preservation Commission) can get a sense of the visibility of said penthouse. Hilarious.