Saturday, August 30, 2008

What You See in Sunset Park: Impromptu Music Performances

This man was playing towards the sunset earlier in the week. He was pretty good, but it sounded more like practice of excerpts than performance of pieces.

These two men were deep in discussion instead of playing when I walked by, but I'm sure it made for pleasant listening for other passersby and the coops they were facing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More Information About Sunset Park's Renovations

Gowanus Lounge has some additional detail about the renovations planned for the park in the relatively near future. See what they say here.

Even though GL says that the walking tour Gonzalez took with the Parks Commish was this week, according to a letter dated the 20th of August (referenced in the recent playground post), the walkthrough was a few weeks ago. Perhaps she took more than one walk?

Let's hope that the renovations go through as expected and promised, and let's hope that those who care for and use the park will treat it with respect so as to enjoy the renovations for a long time.

Four More Days to Enjoy the Pool!

The New York City Pools will be closing on Monday, so get yourself over to the Sunset Pool and enjoy it while you can. It's been incredibly empty lately, and lots of kids are learning to love the sand volleyball court as a sandbox.

The hours on Monday are ONLY from 11 - 3 PM, then it's over! Enjoy.

This photo is from the Sunset Park Pool in 1952.
I can't use it for the "Then and Now"
because I'd have no comparison; photos are not
allowed in the pool area now!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pacificana Dim Sum

After several less-than-patient attempts to partake of dim sum at Pacificana, I have finally experienced the legendary tidbits and nibbles above the Chase bank on 8th Avenue and 55th Street. I went with a friend who speaks and understands Chinese, and she also was familiar with some of the items I hadn't ever seen. The servers did translate the dishes, so don't worry if you don't know Chinese.

We started out by ordering Chrysanthemum tea instead of the regular green tea. So good. Let it steep for a while after it gets to the table. Fanny also told me that it's polite to tap the table with your fingertips while the server (or your friend) pours tea for you. It basically means "Thank you for pouring my tea."

Other highlights we ordered were shu mai, shrimp dumplings, and some crunchy goodness wrapped in squishy goodness. Fanny had to eat most of that since only the crunchy-squishy goodness was sans meat. We then saw a bun/pastry cart go by. Fanny picked out the durian and egg custard plates. I was a little dubious about eating the durian pastry (pictured below) because I had seen that bizarre foods show with that food guy on that food channel. The durian vendors in his show were stationed far from everyone else due to the smell of the durian fruit. It's also banned in touristy hotels in China and Singapore! Fanny assured me that the taste (and smell) is much different post-cooking than fresh. I would have tried it anyway, just to try it.

However, it was really good. The durian filling is kind of like cooked but uncaramelized Vidalia onions. It was really good! It was all I could do to save one to bring home for my better half.

The photo below shows some of the other items we tried. From right to left: the egg custard tarts were also quite tasty. Very eggy flavor, and sweet. The greens were excellent, and it was a good thing we ordered them. Nice to have something to help things move along. The turnip cake has chunks of turnip and some pork in it. I did try a little of the turnip chunk, and it was tasty. On the far left is an almond pudding. Very sweet and very good. In fact, it was particularly tasty as a way to cut some of the bitterness of the greens. There is also some hot sauce on the table. You have to order that especially; just ask for "hot sauce."

The entire meal, Fanny had been talking about fresh tofu pudding. She hadn't had it for years, and we didn't see any going by in the carts. After we'd already ordered an obscene amount of plates (we were there to try lots of stuff - we didn't finish them all!), I saw a server scooping wobbly white stuff into bowls. I'd found it! I was very pleased to make myself useful at Pacificana. So, of course, we had to order a bowl of fresh tofu as well. It was a perfect ending, actually. Very light, the tiniest bit sweet, and it actually tasted like tofu...not spongey shoelaces like some of the pre-packaged tofu can be. Here's what the serving looked like before we attacked it.

What surprised me about Pacificana most was how crowded it was. I mean, it was 11:30 AM in the middle of the week! I thought there would be SOME people there, but the place was FULL. And when it started to thin out at about noon, a new wave of people came in. I have to say, we spent a lot more time there than most. At first we were seated with the maternal side of a family (grandmother, mother, three girls), they finished up while we started, and then a couple of White women came in and they were seated with us. (We three were the only White people there, by the way. Coincidence? I guess we got the kids'/White people's table.) The two women were out of there within 20 minutes...quick lunch. A third party was being seated when we finally had our bill tallied. Perhaps a lot of people use it as a quick, relatively cheap way to have lunch. Anyway, I was amazed by the amount of people in that huge space.

I'll be back, for sure. I know that on the weekends it's best to get there quite early. We were seated almost immediately, so weekday lunch is pretty easy. Enjoy!

Playground Updates, part 2: Hope for the Future

Several Sunset Park parents have been actively working towards a better playground for local children. Along the way, there is some good news that hasn't yet gotten out to the community in full force. The playground, and much of the park, is set to get a total overhaul by the summer of 2010. Some of the general park renovations have already been completed - repaving of the 44th Street side, some benches replaced, a new bike rack, new plants/trees planted - and some future renovations include park building renovations (does this mean the bathroom will have consistently working sinks?) and, of course, the playground.

According to a letter one parent received from Sara González, here are some things we can look forward to:

The playground will be completely renovated, updated, and modernized. There will be space for mini soccer and little league baseball, new fencing, new paint, and all of the other amenities you would expect in one of the City’s best parks. Also, the synthetic turf will not consist of crushed tire, but rather a different, cooler product that will ensure there is no overheating of the ground our children are playing on. These renovations are expected to be complete by 2010.

On the phone with one of our parents, Michael Schweinsburg, Gonzalez' communications director, confirmed that the playground's new surfacing and equipment are included in the overall renovation of Sunset Park. According to Mr. Schweinsburg, the plans and/or a schedule for this renovation can be viewed at the Recreation Center. Guess we'll be checking that out.

Sometime this fall, the Request for Proposal will go out, and then bids will be accepted from construction companies. Once a bid has been accepted, we can expect to see work beginning.

In addition, to alleviate the over-crowding in the Sunset Park playground, the local school playgrounds will be open for general public use during the summer of 2009. My impression was that the playgrounds are supposed to be open to the public when school is out anyway, but it's great to have that "officially" confirmed.

It all sounds lovely, and what's left for concerned parents to do? Well, getting a look at the proposed plans and continuing to alert local officials and 311 about dangerous and just gross situations in the playground and park will still be important. Although not an unusual time-line for City plans, two years is a long time to wait for a pleasant and safe play area for our children.

Thank you to the parents who have given up their time to check up on this situation and help us all to be productive gadflies for the benefit for all of our community's children.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Playground Updates, part 1: Current State of the Playground

After all the complaining I've done about the dirt and the feces and the trash and the smokers and the random adults hanging out on the benches and (literally) hanging on the equipment, I still bring my child to the playground. However, it's never a carefree visit and I've become a hovering parent. I mean, I never know what he'll find on the equipment (corncobs are gross enough, but used tissues and bottles of mystery liquid? Ugh.), and he now knows the word for trash in three languages. He's also started saying "Bah Fui" when he sees something that he knows I think is gross. Cute enough, but really sad, too.

In addition to the trashy stuff, here are some other updates to the condition of the playground. These photos were taken on Sunday.

These photos are of two different tiles that represent some of the safety tiles that get hot when it's a bright, sunny, steamy day. Apparently, they too agree that they should be removed and replaced; they are attempting to escape. The problem with this is, of course, that they are very easily tripped over by both little feet and larger feet that chase the little feet. I witnessed an older man trip (but not fall, happily) over the top photo's tile.

Here's an example of a tile that did escape. It left behind the lovely remains of a large moth as well as some mystery chips of either glass or hard plastic. This former tile space is not far from another tile that is loose enough that stepping on it brings up stagnant, dark water from the bowels of whatever is beneath the playground. Mmmmmmm.

Another concern in the playground is the rust. Now, my kid has had his tetanus shots, yet it's concerning on a variety of levels. Take a look at the huge chips of rust that are coming off. I had a wide variety of choice in areas of rust to photograph. I liked this one for the blue/reddish-brown contrast. Pretty, right? This happens to be on the floor level, but there are plenty of rusted areas that come in more regular contact with little hands (and sometimes mouths). Ick.

Redang Island Closed by the Department of H&MH

Was it for health or mental hygiene? Either way, Redang Island on 8th Avenue and 51st Street is not serving food right now. The lights were on, however, and there were a couple of people inside. Fixing what's broken? Cleaning up? Thankfully, you can still visit Nyonya down the street for your Malaysian food fix.

Sunset Park's Industry City has Affordable Space for Artists or Whatever

Brooklyn Based made it out to Industry City - lured in by the promise of cheap rents for lots of space. If you've visited Light Industry's Tuesdays shows, you've been there. If you've gone to CostCo, you've been to the edge of there. If you've wandered around in the 30's (perhaps after shopping at Rossman's) hoping to check out the waterfront, you've been there.

Here's a taste of what BB had to say:

...Industry City is a six-million-square-foot swath of industrial buildings within the 24-acre Bush Terminal, built in the early 1900s when the borough's waterfront was a bustling port and trading center. Now owned by Industry City Associates, the complex bears traces of the past - like rail tracks for trains that used to service the terminal - and industrial businesses that employ thousands of people.

See the entire piece here.

Then and Now: 44th Street Looking Towards 4th Avenue

This photo was taken in 1952 on 44th Street. The two story building on the left side of the photo was torn down a few years ago to make way for the new Lutheran Medical Center's Sunset Gardens. This was one construction project that didn't seem to have too many complaints about it. (Unlike the new condos on 42nd Street that ruined several 43rd Street backyards.)

The lack of trees in 1952 allows us to see the types of cars that parked on the street. Very cool. A photo from the same vantage point at the 1952 photo shows just car doors and treetops, so I settled for the same area but a different point of view.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunset Park Mom at the Lyceum

Heather Bennett, a Sunset Park resident, will be performing with the Cortelyou Composers Collective for Jazz on Wednesdays at the Brooklyn Lyceum tomorrow night. There are two shows, one at 8 PM and the next at 9:30 PM. The price is $10 at the door. The Lyceum is at 227 4th Avenue, a short walk to President from the Union R stop. Stop in and support Heather and the Collective.

The Collective is a group of ten artists, and they will be premiering new works. Here's a list of the band members:

Arun Luthra, Matt Renzi, Norbert Syatchel: Reeds
Mike Boscarino, Jack Davis: Trombones
Heather Bennett, Julie Milgram: Vocals
Gary Fisher: Piano
Mary Anne McSweeny: Bass
Chris Benham: Drums

They have a MySpace page, if you want to check them out.

Borough Park Molester: Old news, but Not Yet Solved

The news about a child molester on the loose is an on-going story for neighboring Borough Park. The Daily News article implies that there was a Borough Park abduction and assault (they use "rape" and then "sexual assault" - legally, they have different definitions) of a four-year old on July 16 of THIS year. It seems that it actually happened in July of 2007. However, on August 3rd, of THIS year, a 14 year old girl was abducted for three hours and assaulted before being released. NY1 has the run-down here.

According to NY1, the suspect is described as:

Police describe the suspect as a man in his early 20s, with a thin build and short, black hair that is spiked up. He was seen wearing a black t-shirt and white sneakers. The suspect was described as driving a black four-door sedan with tinted windows and a beige cloth interior.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES, then enter TIP577.

What they don't include in this instance is that he is also described as White. (I think it's the silliest "rule" that news agencies can't/won't mention physical descriptions that touch on race. Like that's not part of your physical being? How about was he pale or tanned? Medium-toned skin or sallow? Did he have a clean-shaven face or stubble? Pimples or scars? Don't these all go together?)

Since Sunset Park is so close to this area of Borough Park, keep your eyes peeled for a car that looks like a car service with tinted windows. Some local businesses have been posting recent news about the assault in windows.

The Borough Park area has been no stranger to people who decide to abuse children. Here are a couple of links to other, relatively recent, stories.

Man exposes himself to girls.

Man abuses children in parks.

Summer Coming to a Close

The bees are busy, and the wild flowers (and tended flowers) are showing off their colors around the park. Judging from this past weekend and its amazing weather, Sunset Park will be hosting a lot of "Last Days of Summer" picnics and celebrations. There were more balloons, pinatas, and sunbathers this weekend than I've seen in a long time. Good times.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Get Your Tree this Fall for Free

Add to the greenery in Sunset Park - for free! The City is still trying to fulfill its Million Trees promise, and you can help. Planting will take place in the fall, but you need to request the tree now.

Here's the link to the Parks Street Tree Request Form.

Light Industry hosts "L.A. Plays Itself" and "Sex Garage"

On Tuesday, at 8 PM, Light Industry will host William E. Jones as he presents Two Films by Fred Halsted. Both films deal with gay porn in early 70's Los Angeles.

Sex Garage is black and white, and, according to the information provided by Light Industry, showed one of the early examples of bisexuality in gay porn. According to the description, there is also an early example of man and machine, in the intimate sense.

L.A. Plays Itself deals with "beautiful young men in sylvan Malibu Canyon and boy hustlers on the mean streets of Hollywood." Urban/pastoral juxtaposition?

The films will be presented by William E. Jones, a film-maker who is working on a book about Fred Halsted.

See Light Industry's website for more specific descriptions of the films and the presenter. As always, tickets are $6 at the door. And you'll find the door at 55 33rd Street on the 3rd floor.

Then and Now: Greenwood Heights Reformed Church

This church was once called the Greenwood Heights Reformed Church, located on 45th Street and 7th Avenue. It's facade was really beautiful.

The white trim of the curving shape and the windows is still there. The GHRC was built in the 1800's and disbanded in 1972. Now it is the United Methodist Christ Church, and it houses a Head Start. The surrounding trees kept me from getting a solid shot of the entire building, but it's clear that not much has changed - other than the signs that don't fit in with the building at all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Theatre is a Success in Sunset Park

The crowded day of theatre in Sunset Park on Saturday entertained all comers. First, at 4 PM the Curious Frog Theatre Company used the center grassy area (perhaps to the dismay of the soccer players) to present Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Cheery chalk announcements led the audience to the show. If anyone who went has a photo, I'd love to post it. I didn't get one. From what I heard, one problem with the over-lapped-scheduling was that once the 5:30 PM show began, the audience for Shakespeare drifted over to hear the Spanish-language play and music.

While the Curious Frogs were still packing up, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Company began performing Los Jibaros Progresistas to an appreciative, mainly standing, audience. Toddlers danced and clapped during the songs, adults laughed at the jokes, and Sunset's local characters even got involved and showed their appreciation. See below.

Thanks to the sponsors of each event, and congratulations to Maria Roca and the Friends of Sunset Park for another successful, free, accessible day in our park.

Gang Graffiti Arrives and is Removed

Three separate instances of the same phrase were deposited on the 6th Avenue and 44th Street entrance to Sunset Park on Friday night/Saturday morning. By 10 AM, the first was already being painted over by Parks workers. This gang is homegrown Sunset Park. If you're not familiar with them, check out #7 at this October 2007 article from the New York Post and a ten year old article about an incident involving a gang member.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Action-Packed Theatre Day in Sunset Park

Whether it was a communication breakdown or a conscious decision to pack two theatre shows into one afternoon, I do not know. However, if the signs and websites don't lie, tomorrow will feature two separate theatre events in our park.

First, at 4 PM we have The Curious Frog Theatre Company present Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. See details here.

Then, at 5:30 PM we can expect Los Jibaros Progresistas presented by the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. See details here or on the accompanying photo.

Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and get some culture in English and Spanish. Enjoy.

New Signs at Sunset Playground are a Reaction to News Story

We still don't have one of the City's "Playground Rules" signs, like this one from Rappaport Playground:

But it seems the City wants to make sure that no one can say they weren't told about summer safety issues - at the end of August. Here's what was very recently added to the gate at the Sunset Park playground:

Apparently, these signs were put up sometime on Wednesday afternoon. By curious coincidence, that is just a day or so after a NY Daily News reporter spoke with a local parent about the lack of response to her complaints regarding her child's burns on the playground. The brief article was in Thursday's Brooklyn section of the NY Daily News. Keep in mind that the parent's complaints were from early June. Hmmmmmm. Does it take that long to make a few copies and laminate a few signs?

In addition, considering that recent complaints about the playground mats include burns on hands and knees from the frequent falls that toddlers (and sometimes older kids) make, what would appropriate clothing be? Long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and jeans? Any weather that would make that an appropriate or marginally healthy outfit would cause the overheating problems. Any weather that makes the black mats hot enough to burn would cause heat stroke in a 2 year old wearing full on "safety from burn" regalia.

It seems like it would be more effective to get some lighter colored mats or material that doesn't heat up enough to sear the skin off of a child's body. The tiny playground behind PS 169 has red, squishy material that doesn't get horrifically hot. There's one option.

It's a playground, and parents or caretakers should be able to expect a certain level of safety. Sure, shoes are just smart (remember the poo? and what about the constant puddles of stagnant water by the water fountain?), but we can't and shouldn't be expected to cover ALL of their skin in case of falls.

We also have a third laminated safety sign hanging from the gate:

This is a more all-encompassing sign that details safety tips like "ropes used for play can cause accidental strangulation" and "if the equipment feels too hot to the touch, it's probably not safe or fun to play on." Enlarge the photo to see the small print about how to "Play it Safe" in your playground.

By the by, the signs are posted on the gate, but inside a gated area. It's not a problem for the ones with large print, but if you want to read the smaller print, you have to enter this area to get close enough. Well, that, or go to the park-side entrance to the playground. The same signs are posted there. I'm glad the signs are finally up; however, it would have been more appropriate if they had gone up in June.

Then and Now: Finland Congregational Church

Established in 1912, the Finnish Golgotha Congregational Church still sits at 733 44th Street, but now it's called the Brooklyn Baptist Church. The doors have recently gotten new handles (the beautiful old doors went a while ago), the stained glass has protective plexiglass - or something similar - to protect and dull the windows, and the prototypical message board adorns the outer wall, but otherwise it looks shockingly similar. Almost 100 years, and still lovely.

Update on Some 6th Avenue Construction

It's been a while since the new building on 6th and 54th has gotten any attention, so here's a tidbit. It took a long time for the empty post-demolition space to take shape, but now you can't see through to the next set of buildings. There are even some doors and the beginnings of (tiny) balconies.
An interesting choice is the decorative grating on the top of the building. Trimmed in red brick, it lends a certain unique look to the building. It really stands out! I wonder what kind of roof deck this will have. Oh, and I want to apologize for implying that the building was a Fedders Building. It's clearly a Friedrich Building.

On 46th and 6th, this corner lot has been rapidly growing. Just two months ago, there was nothing but a yummy looking construction fence. Now the construction workers are rising above the second floor.

Super Nanny is Looking for NYC Families with Issues

Hey Sunset Park! Do you want to be on the small screen? Does your family have some control issues? Do your kids reflect all the worst and none of the best of your personality? Would you like some help while showing the world how your family handles conflict? Do you have a secret crush on the Super Nanny (Jo Frost)? Here's your chance to get up close and personal with fame (infamy?) while fulfilling your family's needs.

For best results, call casting producer Shari Ast directly. And good luck!

from the press release:


Contact: Shari Ast – Casting Producer: 323/904-4680, ext. 1031

New York families encouraged to apply NOW for brand new season of ABC’s hit show.

Los Angeles, CA – The casting team of ABC’s popular parenting series SUPERNANNY is currently searching specifically for families from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island to be featured on their own episode in the brand new fifth season of the hit show.

ABC’s announcement of a fifth season of SUPERNANNY is welcome news for parents in the city. This season producers are searching for families living in New York with unique interests; parents who have ordinary and extraordinary circumstances; siblings who don’t get along, teen moms; parents with mean girls or bullying boys, culturally diverse parents, and blended families where both sides are seeking help. Producers want families from every type of background who are ready for the opportunity of a lifetime—a visit from America’s number one nanny, Jo Frost!

Interested moms and dads in need of help with their out of control kids may apply from anywhere via Parents can also call 877/NANNY TIME (1-877-626-6984) for more information. Or contact a casting producer directly at 323-904-4680, ex 1031.

Jo Frost’s expert behavioral techniques and caring ease with children make SUPERNANNY a hit with the audience every week. Her book, “ASK SUPERNANNY” is an international best seller and follows up her first book “SUPERNANNY: HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM YOUR KIDS,” which spent several months on the New York Times best seller list.

Please submit by September 8, 2008 to be considered for this round of casting.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sunset BID Bag of Recyclables but Not Returnables

This was lovingly left behind by someone who collected lots of Poland Spring water bottles. There are also a few Arizona Ice Tea and other non-refundable cans and bottles included. This morning, I spotted a few of our local shopping-cart-returnables-collectors stop and look at the bag, but they didn't take it. It's business, not environmental!

What I want to know, however, is what is a Sunset Park Business Improvement District bag full of recycling doing in a tree well and not in a recycling bin? Who left it there? The bag is in good condition, so I doubt it was swiped by one of the regular collectors. Besides, they know better than to collect bottles that aren't worth five or ten cents.

See what happens when you don't give people monetary incentive? Just one more reason to support NYPIRG's "Bigger Better Bottle Bill." Check it out here. Either way, if it's still there later, I'll stick it in front of my building for pick-up. Can I get ticketed for that?

Green-Wood Historic Fund Hosts Battle of Brooklyn at Green-Wood Cemetery

From LostinGreenwoodHts via the Brooklynian boards:

The Green-Wood Historic Fund presents:

A Day of Free Events Commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn
*Fought on August 27th, 1776*

When: Sunday, August 24th, 2008
Where: At The Green-Wood Cemetery

Run-Down of Events:

10 AM: Tribute to George Washington's Irish Generals, The Bold Fenian Men/The Civil War, Irish Korean War Memorial, Matilda Tone, John Gallagher & Charles Higgins.

12:30 PM: Battle of Brooklyn Revolutionary War Re-Enactors at Green-Wood's Meadow

1:30 PM: United States Merchant Marine Academy's Annual Battle of Brooklyn Parade

2 PM: Battle of Brooklyn Commemorative Ceremony on Battle Hill
Part of Brooklyn Battle Week: August 15-27, 2008

The Green-Wood Cemetery - A National Historic Landmark - Our main entrance is located at 500 25th Street (on 5th Avenue) in Brooklyn. Via subway, take the R to the 25th Street station. For more information, call 718-768-7300 or visit us on-line at

Playground Despair and Possible but Slow Solutions

The final days of summer (aka countdown to school) are upon us. Patience with the problems summer brings to local parks (in addition to the joys!) is running dry. As happens every year, those who have younger children have had to adjust their use of playgrounds during the summer due to several camps and day-care facilities using the playground as a daily destination and the influx of school-age children sharing the playground with the barely-walking set. Dodging water-balloons (sold by vendors in the playground who rarely seem to get tickets), yanking toddlers out of scooter and bike "paths" that magically appear in the playground, and sometimes intentionally getting in the way of tweens and teens who, despite being asked nicely to watch for the babies, storm the slides and bridges on the equipment (passive aggressive? who me?) are all part of the fun of summer at the Sunset Park playground.

However, shared stories about the heat from Sunset Park's black playground mats burning children's appendages, poop in the playground, and the reality of the overcrowding in the Sunset Park playground have caused some Sunset Park Parents to feel like nothing can be done to improve the playground conditions.

One parent wrote about what led her to the edge of despair:

...The truth is fixing our park feels like a Sisyphean task. I went to the park last Tuesday at 7 PM. The playground was teeming with kids. Truly over-run. And of course the equipment was the mangled, dirty mess it always is. There was litter everywhere and a vendor set up selling plastic crap inside the playground. Some father whose kid was playing on the same structure as mine literally left his garbage (they'd been eating potato chips) on the playground equipment as he left. Meanwhile over at the water fountain kids were filling water balloons, exploding [them] on the ground and then leaving the detritus. So I despaired. There's garbage all over our park. In part it's because of the respect many of the people who use it show and the utter laziness of the grounds crew who seem to spend their time blowing the garbage around. But it's also because our park is so overcrowded and overused. And it's because the city government really seems to neglect our neighborhood. These things, this week, just felt impossible to overcome to me. *

* used with the author's permission

While some of the issues she brings up don't seem overly offensive on their own, those of us who have been attending the playground regularly - and who have been trying to make small improvements (confronting bicyclists of all ages, closing the gates when entering/exiting, asking elderly groups of men to please take their smoking elsewhere, grabbing children away from broken glass, steering curious children away from the rice and milk vomit recently deposited by a toddler, and so on and so on) can easily understand why the despair would be brought on by the myriad of "smaller" items mentioned above.

So, what CAN be done? Other parents in the area responded with support and ideas.

Suggestions range from contacting Sara Gonzalez (whose email is:, calling 311 until results are seen, contacting Fox News or CBS2 (hoping for a "Shame, shame, shame" or "Shame on You" story), or getting 7 on Your Side.

However, the day to day efforts are probably just as effective. It's exhausting and demoralizing to "do the right thing" all the time. I certainly don't manage to do it. However, if enough people pick up, call 311, close the gates, confront smokers, ask bike riders to take it to the paths, and so on, it will make a difference eventually.

I kind of like the idea of a television segment, however. More flashy, more immediate, and more dramatic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Get Yourself Some Chimichurri Goodness

The Village Voice serves up more food options for the evening hours. If you don't feel like tostadas in the park or pozole from a neighbor, check out the carts that offer chimichurris, tacos, skewers, elotes, and even lots of little sausages. The article is worth a read, even though my vegetarian self appreciated the use of "zaftig" and the mention of Rosa's Elotes more than the chimichurri worship. The article provides both descriptions of the food (in case you were mixing up chimichurri with cuchifrito) and locations of the carts. Enjoy.

As always, the teacher/mom/resident/anti-litter-bug in me reminds everyone to properly dispose of the paper products (and any uneaten portions of your meal) in a trash bin that isn't already overflowing. (Ever notice how people tend to think that a good intention is good enough? Bad aim is followed by a shrug which means: "At least I tried" and placing a piece of trash on top of an already mountainous pile of garbage in a bin is performing a civic duty? Come on, you KNOW it's going to end up on the street eventually. Is it going to kill anyone to carry a cup or plate or whatever another block?)

What You See in Sunset Park: Welcome Sign

I don't know why this car tickled me, but I like it. I think it's the "come quickly" part.* JC is patient, but not THAT patient. Also, the photo image of the man with the fedora is pretty fun. I'm not sure who he is, but he looks excited to greet us.

* To those who have already made crude email comments: I would have spelled it differently had I meant it that way. Dear me!

The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre presents "Los Jíbaros Progresistas" in Sunset Park

Saturday / el sábado - August 23rd / 23 de agosto - 5:30 p.m.
Friends of Sunset Park and Young Dancers in Repertory once again host
The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre's Summer Tour's
Gira de verano del Treatro Rodante Puertoriqueño
presentation of / presentación de
Los Jíbaros Progresistas
written by/escrita por Ramón Mendez Quiñones
In Spanish / en español + English Synopsis / sinopsis en inglés

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reminder: ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic Tomorrow

Wednesday, August 20th, the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic will be on 5th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Street. Be there at around 7 AM, with no more than two pets per household, for intake. See this past post for the details.

Shakespeare and Frogs at Sunset Park

Free Theatre in Sunset Park! On Saturday, August 23rd, enjoy Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in the open air. The fun begins at 4 PM. The Curious Frog Theatre Company is putting on the show. You can read more about the process on the Curious Frog website.

from the website and about the show:

If Curious Frog's mission is to put diversity in significant positions and roles on stage, we've certainly done that in many more ways this "match." Bring your blankets, some food and drink, lots of friends and family, and sit back and enjoy much ado...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunset Park's Tabla Rasa and Artists get Noticed

The New York Observer has an article about Tabla Rasa and the influx of artists - at least artists' work space. Check it out here: NYO article.

Don't forget that the Bridge as Icon show is still going on. Check Tabla Rasa's website for more information.

Don't Forget the 25K You Owe Me!

This was the only lamppost/side of the mailbox sign on 8th Avenue that was fully in English. It might be more effective in Chinese, but what do I know. It's a polite enough plea, and I doubt anyone really forgot about owing 25 thousand dollars. Worth a try, right?

Then and Now: Methodist Episcopal on 4th and 47th

Some things truly do stay the same. Not much difference shows up between this shot of Methodist Episcopal Church on 4th Avenue and 47th Street in 1945 and the same location in 2008. A little paint, different fencing, and more placards on the side of the building are about it. Well, that and a street light that blocks the view on the front door. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Our Park: Battered Street Lamp

Last night some vandals with a lot of aggression and not too much creativity attacked one of the street lamps at the 6th Avenue and 44th Street entrance to the park. Several weeks ago three or four more central lamps were cracked, but nothing like this. Those lamps have been repaired.

In the midst of some benches being repaired, the fences around the grass being re-erected, and staff cleaning up the myriad of trash left behind, more destruction. Inevitably, the image of Sunset Park as a place where people just don't care or turn the other way will begin to (continue to?) be the main impression others and the City has of our neighborhood.

So sad.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Then and Now: 4511 8th Avenue

Thanks to a reader who has much more experience than I do with finding historical photos of the neighborhood and beyond, I can show you a photo from around 1970 of 4511 8th Avenue. What used to be the Ritz Theatre became DANS SUPREME and later, Steve's C-Town Supermarket. If you enlarge the photos, you can compare prices on items like apple juice.

One of the changes is that two of the bricked up windows are now open again. The Steve's red paint also highlights the top facade a little bit more. Other than that, you can still see the closed up windows on the second floor haven't been touched or re-touched.

Thank you, Tony, for the DANS photo and more to come!

Sunset's Green Market Has Eggs, Honey, and Cranberry Beans

Here's a comment left by Stacey, the Sunset Park Farmers' Market Manager:

Cash is most welcome at the market but I forgot to mention that we also accept Mastercard/VISA and EBT/Food Stamps. If you want to use your credit card/debit or EBT card just find me - I'm easy to spot in a yellow shirt - and I can swipe your card and give you tokens that you can use like cash at any of the 4 farm stands.

And thanks for pointing out that Rexcroft does sell eggs and honey, too! Hope to see you at the market. Every week the bounty from each farm grows and grows and gets more colorful too! Did you see the fresh cranberry beans Angel Growers was selling last week!? They were beautiful!

Eggs, honey, AND cranberry beans? I missed the cranberry beans, so I guess I'll have to check it out. And who knew that you could use plastic at the market? With just four stands, it seems too small for that, but I guess that's the wonder of technology. Also, the option she mentions about getting tokens sounds enticing. Lots of ways to support the Green Market!

Maybe next year we'll even get baked goods and apple cider. Actually, maybe we'll get apple cider this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Health Fair to Celebrate Health Center Week

Yesterday morning was the beginning of National Health Center Week. To celebrate, there will be free screenings and health education events at various area health centers. See this link for a full listing: Health Center Week.

So, if it's been a while, get yourself checked and find out health information. Here's the schedule for tomorrow in our area:

Sunset Terrace Family Health Center

Event: National Health Center Week
Date: 8/15/08 Time: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: Sunset Terrace Family Health Center
514 49th Street
Coordinator: Yoly Bazile
Phone: 718-630-6812

Additional Information:
Free Screenings: Rapid HIV Site / Program brochures

Park SlopeFamily Health Center

Event: National Health Center Week
Date: 8/15/08 Time: 1 - 4 p.m.

220 13th street

Coordinator: Yoly Bazile
Phone: 718-630-6812

Additional Information: Screenings: blood pressure, dental, Reach Out & Read; NYPD. Refreshments: Healthy snacks, water etc...

ASPCA Mobile Clinic Returns to Sunset Park on August 20th.

Spay and Neuter your dogs and cats. Please.

While that nasty, screeching, large, fluffy black and white cat hasn't been prowling around as often behind the buildings on my block, there are loads of stray cats roaming around Sunset Park. Some of these come from homes that don't know what to do about kittens. Well, here's something you can do: Bring them to the free or low-cost Spay/Neuter clinic sponsored by the ASPCA. If you can afford it, please pay and/or make a donation. I think the price is $25 per pet. Not bad. If you are on public assistance, you can have the services for free. All you need is a few bucks to buy the cone that keeps your pet from licking its stitches. They advise you to arrive around 7 AM to line-up for the intake process. They take the first 25 pets every day.

Check out the details on their website. It includes instructions for feeding the night before and transporting your pet to/from the mobile clinic.

Pet Owners! Be there on Wednesday, 8/20 --> 5th Avenue, Between 42nd Street & 43rd Street, Sunset Park.

Also, if anyone wants a kitten, email me at bestviewinbrooklyn (at) yahoo (dot) com with a contact number. I'll pass it along to someone who just had a litter.