Bushwick Photo du Jour: Mum’s The Word

January 26, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick 

Mum’s the Word

My lips are sealed as to where this photograph was taken, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s located very close to the Myrtle Avenue Stop of the J/M/Z.

Anybody out there care to guess the street?

Miss Heather

Have You Seen Samantha?

January 26, 2008 ·
Filed under: Area 51 

Yesterday afternoon I received a rather disquieting email from a woman in Windsor Terrace named Pam. She writes:

My apartment was broken into Wednesday afternoon and my beloved Maltese, Samantha was stolen. The thief came in through the fire escape and left through the front door. Although several bags and boxes throughout the apartment had been rifled through, the only thing missing is my dog and her carrier. Reports have been filed with the police, Animal Control, ASPCA and the Humane Society.

I’ve attached a flyer with her photo and pertinent information. Any help you can provide with posting this info would be greatly appreciated. If you have additional questions, my mobile number is 917-627-0292.

Thanks so much.

Best regards,

Pam

In my 30-odd years I have seen some really strange shit, but I have never heard of someone burglarizing an apartment to steal a dog. It just serves to prove two things I have suspected all along:

  1. Human beings are pretty fucked up creatures.
  2. Truth is infinitely stranger than fiction.

Samantha Flier

If anyone has seen Samantha please contact Pam at the above telephone number.

Thanks!

Miss Heather

UPDATE 1/31/08: Per The Gowanus Lounge, Samantha has been returned to her owner!

You Pick The Movie at East Coast Aliens

January 26, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

East Coast Aliens Pick Pick Night

Tomorrow, January 27 at 9:00 p.m. East Coast Aliens will be hosting a rather novel evening of cinematic entertainment where we, the attendees, vote on which movie you want to see. Here’s the scoop, per their web site:

The Apartment or The Beat That My Heart Skipped

It’s pick-pick night!

Check your facts, defend your pick, we vote and watch the winner.

They could not have selected two seemingly more different movies. Here are brief plot synopses from IMDB.

The Apartment:

Bud Baxter is a struggling clerk in a huge New York insurance company. He’s discovered a quick way to climb the corporate ladder – by lending out his apartment to the executives as a place to take their mistresses. He often has to deal with the aftermath of their visits and one night he’s left with a major problem to solve.

The Beat My Heart Skipped:

Twenty-eight-year-old Tom leads a life that might be termed as criminal. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of his father, who made his money from dirty, and sometimes brutal, real estate deals. Tom is a pretty hard-boiled guy but also strangely considerate as far as his father is concerned. Somehow he appears to have arrived at a critical juncture in his life when a chance encounter prompts him to take up the piano and become a concert pianist, like his mother…

Although the latter film sounds rather interesting, I have a confession to make: I am a Billy Wilder fan. Since The Apartment was directed by him I am more than a little biased. In addition, I have seen this film. It is quite good.

Those of you who disagree with my cinematic taste should be advised that doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the recommended donation is $6.00 per person.

East Coast Aliens
216 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222
(718) 514-7625

Don’t forget what a very wise man once said and:

Vote early— and vote often.

Miss Heather

Bushwick Pay Phone du Jour: Irving Avenue

January 25, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick 

Irving Avenue Payphones

I am going to go out on a limb here and state that someone who resides on or near the intersection of Irving Avenue and Stanhope Street harbors a great deal of contempt towards public pay phones. Or someone’s receiver collection just got two new additions.

Damn.

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Greenpoint Coffee House

January 25, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

As the weekend approaches I imagine a number of you are making plans. Among these plans is probably a loathsome avocation called “brunch”. Speaking as someone who does NOT want to eat waffles at 4:00 in the afternoon, I wish I could find the person who came up with this concept so I can take a brickbat to the side of his (or her) head. Thankfully I recently learned I am not the only Greenpointer who harbors this sentiment.

Brunch

The chap sporting this shirt was at the Greenpoint Coffeehouse last Sunday afternoon. It should be noted that a number of his fellow patrons were partaking of “brunch”. When I asked him if I could take a picture of his shirt he gladly obliged, adding:

Spread the word.

Consider it done.

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!

Bushwick Photo du Jour: Medici Meets Knickerbocker

January 24, 2008 ·
Filed under: Bushwick 

Loans

I recently found this wonderful remnant of a bygone era at the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Stockholm Street. As I took the above photograph a pair of women stopped and asked me what I found so interesting. I pointed out the symbol gracing the top of this building and told them a pawnbroker once operated a business here.

pawnbrokerdetail

When I got home later I realized that although I recognized the pawnbroker symbol instantly, I did not know (or more likely— forgot) its origins. Being a fan of this kind of worthless knowledge I thought it would be fun to find out. Most of what I found online was more or less the same. Here is Wikipedia’s take:

The pawnbroker’s symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar. The three sphere symbol is attributed to the Medici Family of Florence, Italy, owing to its symbolic meaning of Lombard. This refers to the Italian province of Lombardy, where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking. The three golden spheres were originally the symbol which medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses, and not the arms of the Medici family. It has been conjectured that the golden spheres were originally three flat yellow effigies of byzants, or gold coins, laid heraldically upon a sable field, but that they were converted into spheres to better attract attention.

Most European towns called the pawn shop the “Lombard”. The House of Lombard was a banking family in medieval London, England. According to legend, a Medici employed by Charles the Great slew a giant using three bags of rocks. The three ball symbol became the family crest. Since the Medicis were so successful in the financial, banking, and money lending industries, other families also adopted the symbol. Throughout the Middle Ages, coats of arms bore three balls, orbs, plates, discs, coins and more as symbols of monetary success. Pawnbrokers (and their detractors) joke that the three balls mean “Two to one, you won’t get your stuff back”.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers. The symbol has also been attributed to the story of Nicholas and the three bags of gold.

I for one find the location of this building rather serendipitous. As it would happen, an avenue bearing the name “St. Nicholas” is only three blocks away.

Miss Heather

This Friday at Word Books

January 24, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Tomorrow, January 25th, Word Books will conduct its first “Book-to-Movie Night” with the feature Everything is Illuminated. For those of you who are not familiar with this film (or the novel it is based upon) here is a plot synopsis from IMDB:

A young Jewish American flies to the Ukraine in search of his grandfather’s past. He has a photograph and the name of a village. He hires the Odessa Heritage Tours, made up of a gruff old man and his English-speaking grandson. The three, plus grandfather’s deranged dog, travel in an old car from Odessa into Ukraine’s heart. Jonathan, the American, is a collector, putting things he finds into small plastic bags, so he will remember. Alex, the interpreter, is an archetypal wild and crazy guy. Alex asks the old man, “Was there anti-Semitism in the Ukraine before the war?” Will they find the village? The past illuminates everything.

The movie will begin at 8:00 p.m. sharp so be sure to get there early!

Word Books
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222
(718) 383-0096

For more information about this or any forthcoming “Book-to-Movie Night” (they are slated for the last Friday of every month) contact Word’s owner at the above-listed phone number or via email at:

info (at) wordbrooklyn (dot) com

Best yet, do what I do and check out their blog.

Miss Heather

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

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