“Picture Perfect” Is In The Eye of The Beholder

January 29, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

Last week I generated a little controversy when I stated in this post that Cooper Park is “is not encircled by condominiums”. And in the purest sense of the word this is true. Nonetheless a couple readers saw fit to make mention of the Olive Park Condominiums, a monstrosity which can be found at the intersection of Olive Street and Maspeth Avenue. “Ray” writes:

I was walking around there last weekend and did come upon a very large new condo development on Olive Street, about a block from the park:

oliveparkcondos.com

“Williamsburg’s First Resort-Like Lifestyle Condo in a Picture-Perfect Parkside Setting”!!!

featuring a “chic and sexy lobby” and a “full-time concierge”…

Because that’s what the world needs.

You forgot “fitness center”, Ray. I watched them unload treadmills into this bad boy this very morning! I agree this building is atrocious. It is not only ugly, but it is the poster child for zoning law abuse. The previous having been said, I still do not think it is as horrific as the Karl Fischer Experience at McCarren Park.

Hell On Earth

But I suppose that’s just a matter of personal opinion.

Miss Heather

MMG Design Leaves Her Calling Card Once Again

January 25, 2008 ·
Filed under: Williamsburg 

I have received numerous inquiries about the welfare of Hard Hat Hannah. From as far as Philadelphia:

…If I was there in Greenpoint, and if there was a city provided white board and marker, I would write “Free Hard Hat Hanna(h)!” on one repeatedly. Oh where has she gone? have the forces of Permit Violating Evil Doers kidnapped her and bricked (with mis-matching colors of course) her into a basement under one their fedderboxes? Did she naively hitch a ride with a DOB inspector… and end up in the East River? Inquring minds want to know.

To Long Island City:

We need to see Hard Hat Hannah in front of these grotesqueries, with one or both of her wittle thumbs resoundingly DOWN. When is Hannah gonna make her 2008 debut, BTW? Now’s the perfect time.

It has been a rough patch for Hard Hat Hannah. That first sojourn into the seemingly unregulated no man’s land that is “McCarren Park Heights South” really did a job on her. Being the dutiful, dedicated and incorruptible little building inspector she is, she got depressed. Really depressed.

Hannah eating pasties and swilling booze

When Mr. Heather and I found her watching television at 3:00 a.m. with danish filling on her lips and booze on her breath last month, we knew an intervention had to be made. And it was. We decided that it was in her best interest to take a vacation.

That said, Hannah is back and I recently took her with me on my rounds. Aware of her delicate condition, I was gentle with her.

Hannah and the Finger

We first went by the “Finger Building”.

Hannah and the Suitman

While we were there I noticed a young man wearing an ill-fitting suit wielding a clipboard with a map on it.

Miss Heather: This dude is totally a real estate agent learning his “territory”.
Hannah: What makes you think so?
Miss Heather: No one wears a suit in north Brooklyn unless he (or she) intends to profit from the local population’s misery. I once had such a person (wearing a skirt) point to my person and refer to me as being the “new artistic influx” while a bunch of middle-aged men took copious notes on their clipboards.
Hannah: She didn’t acknowledge you as a person?
Miss Heather: No, I was a selling tool.

Next, we checked out 5 Roebling.

Hannah at 5 Roebling

Hannah was dismayed to find the fence in a state of disrepair and the gate left wide open.

148 Scholes Street

Later, at 184 Scholes Street, Hannah learned that this is MMG Construction’s modus operandi: wreck ’em and leave ’em wide open.

148 Scholes Street Summons

Notices of violation were served as well.

184 Scholes Street Complant, DOB

Click on the above image and check out ECB violations 34611654n and 34611655p yourself. You will go on an Orwellian trip of a distinctly Kafka-esque character.

ECB Violation 34611645n: Violation number not found.
ECB Violation 34611655p: Violation number not found.
DOB Violation VP 011808CO1RG03: Refer to violation #34611655p.
DOB Violation VPW 01180CO1RG02: Refer to violation #34611655p.

George Orwell once wrote:

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

The Department of Buildings has an online database anyone can access. The purpose of doing so is to (ostensibly) provide the public information. How valuable is this information when one finds himself (or in my case, HERself) hitting a brickwall of “non-existent” violations?

Miss Heather

P.S.: Oh yeah, anyone interested in contacting Hannah can do so via email at:
hardhathannah (at) newyorkshitty (dot) com!

Introducing the Envers

January 24, 2008 ·
Filed under: Articles of Fedderization, Bushwick, Williamsburg 

Today I have a very special treat to share with you, dear readers: the first installment of the Enver Hoxha Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture, or “The Envers” for short. Who is Enver Hoxha and what does he have to do with architecture, you ask? Read on and learn for yourself!

Enver Hoxha (per Wikipedia):

…was the leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Communist Albanian Party of Labour. He was also Prime Minister of Albania from 1944 to 1954 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1953. Hoxha’s rule was characterized by isolation from the rest of Europe and his proclaimed firm adherence to anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninism, which has been dubbed “Hoxhaism”. Albania’s government of the time projected the image that it had emerged from semi-feudalism to become an industrialized state…

And lest we forget, the following are without argument Mr. Hoxha’s most lasting contributions to the field of architecture:

Albania Bunkers Small

Hoxha’s legacy also included a complex of over 600,000 one-man concrete bunkers across a country of 3 million inhabitants, to act as look-outs and gun emplacements. The bunkers were built strong and mobile, with the intention that they could be easily placed by a crane or a helicopter in a previously dug hole. The types of bunkers vary from machine gun pillboxes, beach bunkers, to naval underground facilities, and even Air Force Mountain and underground bunkers. There were over 700,000 pillboxes built and around 500,000 pillboxes were reported to still be in good condition and ready to serve in case of war.

In keeping with his Soviet comrades counterparts, Mr. Hoxha’s bunker fetish spilled over into the civilian sector. The effects of this concrete chic ranged anywhere from a hodgepodge of disharmonious architectural elements…

Hoxha House taken by Jim Rees

to rustic rusting institutional…

Albanian apartment building taken by Jim Rees

and last, but hardly least: downright hideous.

Enver’s pyramid taken by Jim Rees

Now that we have had a primer in Albanian Communist Dictators and reviewed some breathtaking examples of Albanian architecture, let’s get down to business. My criteria for assessing the “Enverness” of a given building are as follows:

  1. The visual aesthetics of said building are in keeping with the Soviet era.
  2. The construction quality of said building is akin to something built during the cold war. Extensive use of cement is a plus.
  3. A combination of architectural styles employed in a manner whose end product is anything but pleasing to the eyes. BIG PLUS.

In addition, I will be featuring a rating system called “the bunkers”. On a scale of one to five (with five being full-blown Tirana), the more bunkers a building gets, the more Enver-like are its qualities.

The previous all having been said, let us proceed with today’s Enver Award for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture:

58 Ten Eyck Street

58 Ten Eyck

This splendid example of the International style (and by this I mean Communist International style) is a proletarian paradise.

58 Ten Eyck detail

Mismatched paint, a masterful knowledge of the manifold shades of gray, windowless sheet metal doors and only five stops from Manhattan?!? That’s like living behind the iron curtain but without all the fuss. You can live in a rusting hulk of Soviet caliber crap and wear your Yankee blue jeans at the same time. What a concept!

58 Ten Eyck fence

The fence polishes off this gulag nicely. I wonder if its underlying intent is to keep people out of this property or to keep them in? If it is the latter, I guess today the prisoners got a furlough.

All in all, this is pretty damned Enveresque. I will, however, have to knock off a point for the relative kemptness of the balconies and effort made to conceal the satellite dishes on the roof. All in all, I give 58 Ten Eyck four bunkers.

4 bunkers

Stay tuned, there are even more cold war beauties awaiting an Enver nod from the very same block!

Miss Heather

Photo Credits: All Albanian photographs save the bunker, Jim Rees.
Albanian Bunker, Wikipedia.

The Hunchback of Sharon Street

January 24, 2008 ·
Filed under: Williamsburg 

If any of you have the opportunity I strongly recommend you check out Cooper Park. This little known gem is located across the street from the Greenpoint Hospital on Maspeth Avenue between Olive Street and Morgan Avenue. When you go there you will notice that unlike its sister to the north (McCarren) this park is not encircled by condominiums.

What’s more, a short stroll down Orient Avenue will reveal some of the nicest architecture this neighborhood has to offer. And then you have this.

38 Sharon Street

In keeping with the spirit of the times the owner at 38 Sharon Street decided a mere 1,149 square feet one family house was not enough. To this end they decided to erect a second floor.

38 Sharon Street DOB BIS

Or would that be third floor? It is kind of hard to tell. When I looked up the registration for this property on HPD it indicated this was a one story building. Very curious.

38 Sharon Street

But one could argue the semantics of what makes a one or two story building for hours on end to no avail. There is one thing I can assert with 100% certainty: a neighbor of this eyesore is not the least bit happy and has made his (or her) discontentment known to the Department of Buildings.

DOB Complaint 38 Sharon Street

Often.

Miss Heather

Moore Street Market, Revisited

January 22, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick, Williamsburg 

Moore Street Market, interior

After mentioning this establishment in a post last week I thought it would be fun to learn a little bit about its history— especially in light of the fact that the future of the Moore Street Market looks very cloudy nowadays. Per the June 13, 2007 edition of the New York Daily News:

…the city’s Economic Development Corp. had suddenly notified 20 merchants who operate in the cavernous Moore St. market in Williamsburg that the building was to close June 15 to make way for new affordable housing.

After decades at the same location, the merchants were furious at the city’s bullying tactics.

“At first, they offered us $20 a square foot for our businesses and told us we had 20 minutes to make up our minds,” recalled Virgilio Rodriguez, owner of Ramonita’s Restaurant and head of the merchants group. “No papers, nothing in writing. Just get out, they said.”

The bureaucrats at EDC didn’t even have the common sense to consult the local community board about the city’s plans to demolish the market – something required by city land use laws.

The good news is this market was spared closure for another year. The bad news is this year ends June 2008. Will it survive or will it be razed to build “affordable housing”? I guess we will find out soon enough.

Follows is an article from the July 29, 1941 edition of the New York Times about the opening of the Moore Street Market. Not only was the turnout for this event enormous, but New York’s very own Fiorello La Guardia was master of ceremonies. Enjoy!

Moore Street Market

7/29/1941 NYTimes

Here is the plaque at Moore Street Market commemorating this event.

Plaque

You can find it inside the Moore Street entrance to your left.

Miss Heather

Poopie Po Polsku?

January 21, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick, Williamsburg 

Poopie Po Polsku

This weekend, dear readers, I beheld my very first piece of dog doo signage directed at the local Polish-speaking population…

Martinez Playground

at Scholes Street and Manhattan Avenue?!?

I am not an expert at public outreach, but I have to wonder how effective a sign admonishing people in Polish is going to be in a neighborhood that is largely Hispanic. Of course the punchline here is during all my years of living in Greenpoint (which is rumored to have a rather sizable Polish population) I have never, ever, seen such a sign posted here.

No wonder there is dog shit all over the place.

Miss Heather

Bushwick Photo du Jour: Graham Avenue

January 19, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick, Williamsburg 

Katz Drugs

I found this beautiful old storefront during my last jaunt to the Moore Street Market. For those of you who are not in the know, the Graham Avenue Business District (from Johnson Avenue to roughly Cook Street) is an amazingly fun way to while away part of a Saturday afternoon— especially if you are a Mexican food maven like me. Not only did I find a number of hitherto untried hot sauces to try, but I also stocked up on fixings for many a cold winter night meal:

  • Rajas
  • La Morena refried beans with chipolte and adobo
  • Some of the best looking poblano peppers I have seen in months
  • Culantro (think cilantro on steroids)
  • And much, much more!

Do give this area a whirl. Be sure to check out the Moore Street Market while you’re there:

Moore Street Market (AKA “La Marqueta”)
110 Moore Street
Brooklyn, New York 11206

Bon apetit!

Miss Heather

Heart Like a Wheel

January 18, 2008 ·
Filed under: Crazy Cat Lady, Williamsburg 

Chevette

Meet Chevette, a little kitty with a BIG story to tell! Per Lisa Vallez (a volunteer at BARC):

BARC Shelter’s kennel manager, Jose, made an unusual rescue last Saturday afternoon. A man named Richard thinks he has a kitten under the hood of his Chevy Taurus Tahoe. He’s driving and has his dog Duff in the car with him. Duff doesn’t like other dogs and really doesn’t like cats. Richard decides to drive to the shelter. No, not the safest solution, but the kitten we call Chevette is safe and sound if a little greasy. She also needs a home and prefers public transportation, in a cat carrier please!

If anyone out there is interested in giving Chevette a home, I would recommend firstly that you peruse BARC’s adoption requirements and then pay her a visit at:

Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition
253 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211
Adoption hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m.

You can check out Lisa’s photoset about this pint-size automotive enthusiast by clicking here. In closing I would feel remiss if I didn’t state that I think this kitty cat’s name should be Shirley. As in the first lady of drag racing herself:

I want to be the fastest woman in the world – in a manner of speaking.

Miss Heather

UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: Chevette has been adopted! True to form, she is one fast woman! That said there are still plenty of kitty cats (especially kittens— like these guys) awaiting homes at BARC, so why not swing and check them out this weekend?

Photo Credit: Lisa Vallez

Public Service Announcement: Upcoming Bedbug Seminar

January 18, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick, Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

Vermin of Satan

Though this is a ways off, I want to pass along that a bedbug workshop will be conducted March 12 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Hope Gardens Center in Bushwick.

Hope Gardens Center
195 Linden Street
Brooklyn, New York 11221
To R.S.V.P.: 212-863-8830

In addition, I have learned you can request that a bedbug seminar be conducted in your neighborhood by calling 311*. I would strongly advise each and every Greenpointer (infested or otherwise) who is reading this post to call and request a meeting be conducted right here in The Garden Spot. This situation effects all of us and the more knowledge we have about how to fight these “vermin of Satan” the better.

My bedroom is now a closet

I do not want to this to happen to me. I’m making the call. How about you?

Miss Heather

Photo Credit: Chintamani

*I just tried this and got the run-around. More to follow.

Williamsburg Photo du Jour: Cook Street

January 17, 2008 ·
Filed under: Williamsburg 

I found this terrific mural on Cook Street (just east of Graham Avenue) this week.

Cook Street Mural

Why the agricultural imagery you ask? A farmer’s market is conducted on Cook Street between Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street (P.S. 257) from July to October.

When I got home I later I realized the farmer in this mural reminded me of someone. It took me awhile, but I was finally able to figure out who it was: our nation’s fearless leader.

Cornholio

Maybe it is the idiotic look on his face? Or it has something to do with his repeated corn-holing of this country (and our civil rights) for the last seven years?

Miss Heather

Disclaimer: This is satire. No offense is intended towards:

  1. the participants in
  2. organizers of
  3. corn cobs sold at

the Graham Avenue Farmer’s Market.

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