Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mulchfest: Hang on to Your Tree into the New Year

I know it's not universally traditional to keep a Christmas tree through Three Kings Day, but here's a good reason to do so (with plenty of watering!).

For those who enjoyed the scents and sights of a freshly (or within several weeks) cut tree in your home this season, here's your chance to make its life worth just a little more. Mulchfest is here! It's this coming Saturday and Sunday (January 10th and 11th) from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Sunset Park is a drop off only location for Mulchfest, but if you want to watch them chip up your tree or pick up some mulch for yourself, Owl's Head Park is the closest location. Green-Wood Cemetery also has a drop off only location. Check out the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation site for more information.

Please remember to remove your tinsel, ornaments, lights, and other baubles prior to bringing your tree to be made into mulch!

And if you would rather just leave it on the curb, that begins January 5th and continues through Friday the 16th. Naturally, the day to leave your tree would be prior to your block's pick-up days.

from the NYC DOS press release:

Residents should remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments
from holiday trees before they are put out at curbside for removal. Trees
must not be placed into plastic bags. Clean, non-bagged Christmas trees
that are left at the curb between Monday, January 5th and Friday, January
16th will be collected, chipped, and made into compost. The compost will
be processed and subsequently spread upon parks, ball fields, and
community gardens throughout the city.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Many Places, Indeed

The mural has been up for a couple of months now, and the white Mercedes is often parked in the playground space behind the school. The car provides an interesting punctuation to the sentiment, I think.

IDT is Here - and How to File a Complaint

According to at least one Brooklynian poster (on 12/26), the IDT people have reached Sunset Park. Many Brooklyn residents have had trouble with the representatives (who are probably paid on commission) being very aggressive, lying about or hiding information, and even responding to refusals to sign-up with verbal harassment. Apparently, representatives will sometimes get into coop buildings and knock on doors to find "customers." It seems like they are moving south in their quest to switch people over. In case you have encountered IDT and had a negative experience, here is a reposting of excellent instructions for filing a complaint. If you haven't, be aware that they might be ringing your bell soon.

These complaint instructions are courtesy of someone who doesn't want the credit - via Brooklynian.

I was contacted for the second time by an anonymous tipster who recommended yet another venue to complain against IDT Energy's (IDT Corporation) and Midtown Promotions' "ESCOS Slamming" (scamming) techniques perpetrated on our communities and others through out Brooklyn, Queens and the City. While complaints to the New York State Public Service Commission and the Better Business Bureau of NJ and NY, you can also submit anonymous complaints against IDT to their auditor, Grant Thorton LLP ( ) via an ethics complaint company EthicsPoint.

Thanks to the hundreds of you who have responded (with horror stories, unfortunately) to date.

We have filed two complaints as of today:

1. Falsification of contracts, reports or records (i.e. if you were ESCOS Slammed)

2. Misconduct or inappropriate behavior (i.e. "Hi, I work for Con Ed/Nat Grid and I can save you $$" or aggressive sales tactics)

I encourage EVERYONE who has written/called us or posted complaints on browstoner, gowanuslounge or brooklynian or to CB7 to take the 10 mins to file one or two complaints.

Here's how you go about filing an on-line complaint (you can do it by phone as well at 866-739-4134):

1. Visit or via Grant Thorton LLP's website, under the "ethics" link at the bottom of every page.

2. Click on the "Make a Report" button (this will take you to the portal)

3. You will see options on how to report a single or multiple ethics transgressions against IDT Energy (IDT Corporation) and their third-party sales team at Midtown promotions (Chris Polke, CEO) as it states "You are currently in the confidential and secure reporting structure of EthicsPoint. Below are the choices available to you. Please click on the arrow to select the type of report you would like to make."

4. Depending on whether you were "ESCOS slammed" (ie. signed up for service change to IDT Energy with out your permission) or scammed by a sales rep into thinking the change "will save you money" or if they represented themselves as "working for Con Ed or National Grid."

5. As per above, select either (or both): Falsification of contracts, reports or records and/or Misconduct or inappropriate behavior

It is important to fill out as much info as you may have, which can be done anonymously, but make sure to reference you are "filing a complaint against IDT Energy (IDT Corporation) and their 3rd-party sales team Midtown Promotions to the independent auditor Grant Thorton LLP."

It's that easy (really)! Took me longer to read my e-mail than to file the complaint Smile

Grant Thorton LLP MUST investigate all ethics charges and report them back to their board and subsequently to the SEC and other agencies due to IDT Energy's conduct and if it deemed unethical or illegal. Think about Enron and Arthur Anderson...ring a bell?

Ultimately it's all up to you. I'm just passing along the info. This and help from our local electeds should help us turn the tide against this type of improper sales tactics!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Shot of Summer

Here's a photo from photoblog Shooting Brooklyn that is almost fantasy-like: a little girl runs down 5th Avenue with a balloon that matches her dress. Click here if you want a reminder of what warmer weather is like in Sunset.

Something for Everyone in the Window

This store window encourages some lingering, no matter how cold the weather might be. Thanks to sarahheiman for sharing her flickr photos.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sunset Stories

A link to a pleasant story about our boys in blue.

And a link to a sad story about a local actor and former fire fighter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunset Snowman

This guy is just too cute. I love that his smile is kind of lopsided. He doesn't go in for many accessories, but the ones he's got are snazzy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top and Bottom Decorations

This tree is decorated by people below and Mother Nature above. It makes for a very pretty combination.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weekend Reading about Sunset Park

Since the weather outside is frightful, here's some weekend reading about our fair locale and its inhabitants. Enjoy.

From the Columbia School of Journalism: An article (maybe more of an essay) about a Sunset Park gang member from the 70's and 80's. He's grown-up a lot. Read "Nono's Journey" at The Brooklyn Ink.

From The New York Times archive: An article detailing the shooting of a little girl as she walked by Sunset 1903! Or, read about the park itself, described in glowing terms in the 19th Century. Yes, the 19th Century! (To read the entire articles, you will need to download a PDF file.)

Wreaths Under the Gowanus

This yearly display of holiday commercialism always lends some color to an otherwise dreary location.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow

I feel like I'm in a snow globe. The plow hasn't come by, nor has any vehicle with salt (are they usually the same?). That combination makes for some interesting Auto Ballet shows. I'll never understand why someone would honk and honk and honk when a car ahead is loudly and obviously spinning its wheels trying to make it up a hill. You're in that much of a hurry to crash into parked cars? Thankfully, a couple of oil trucks have gone by and that made two clear rows for future cars to use safely. The snow makes the park look especially pristine (I know, doesn't it always?), and it's too bad I couldn't get a good shot of the shrieking kids who are sledding down the walkway. They are having FUN.

Apparently, one of my neighbors is also having FUN. Either he is very attentive to his sidewalk obligations, or he just loves to shovel. Within two hours of the snow starting, he already had his sidewalk area cleared. I think he'll be doing it a few more times before most of the other houses have begun.

*Update* Another oil truck clogged up the street with his delivery (to his credit, he pulled over to try and let people by first, but they couldn't get up the street). It took all of six minutes - really - and the numbskull in the van honked his horn the ENTIRE time. Thankfully for everyone waiting to spin up the street, the oil guy didn't pull the passive aggressive attitude I would have, and he continued on his merry way very efficiently. The shoveler from above was out again during the drama. Not to watch, but to...shovel!

SPAN Meeting Tomorrow - Rezoning Focus

Saturday the 20th (tomorrow!) is the next Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors meeting. It's at 11 AM, and the topic will be rezoning of Sunset Park. Discussion stemming from their recent screening about Harlem's rezoning will very likely continue. The meeting is at Trinity Lutheran Church on 4th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.

Diapason Gallery hosts Electro-Acoustic Musicians

The relatively new arrival to Sunset Park's Industry City, the Diapason Gallery is continuing its artistic offerings tonight at 8 PM. The greatest thing about the description of tonight's event is that the bio for Dan Joseph includes (b. 1966). I guess I'm getting close to an age when the birth year is so far away that it needs a parenthetical. Sheesh.

Anyway, the show at Diapason Gallery is FREE (gotta love that), and it will include two musicians: Dan Joseph and
Miguel Frasconi. As described on the website, they will "improvise within Diapason Gallery's multi-channel sound environment." What is a multi-channel sound environment? If you don't know, I suppose you'll have to check out the show to find out.

Diapason Gallery
882 Third Avenue (between 32nd and 33rd Street), 10th floor
Brooklyn NY 11232
Subways: D, N, R to 36th Street
Phone: 718.499.5070

Bay Ridge Green Market Holiday Celebration

Horrid weather be damned...we want our fresh produce and music!

Okay, granted, I don't think I'll be dragging my two month old out at 8 AM in the sleet to pick up my $2 coupon, but maybe someone else wants to. Check out the fun events at the Bay Ridge Green Market tomorrow per an email from the manager. Lots to experience.

The Bay Ridge Farmers Market will be celebrating the holidays this Saturday,
December 20, with the following special events:

- *8:00AM* - The first 200 customers will receive a free $2 coupon to use
at any farm stand at the market.
- *10:00AM - 1:00PM* - Santa Claus will be giving out free gifts to
children. Bring the whole family!
- *11:00AM - 2:00PM* - Musical guests, Max's New Hat, will be performing
fun and energetic Balkan music: http://www.maxs-
- *12:00Noon* - Latke cooking demonstration. Latkes (potato fritters)
are traditional Hanukah treats, and there'll be samples for everyone!

As usual, you can stock up on vegetables, diary, bread and fish for your
holiday meals. Here are the producers coming to the market this Saturday:

- *Water Bufalo di Vermont,* Woodstock, VT: Yogurt; cheeses, including
the famous buffalo milk mozzarella; and salami
- *Bread Alone*, Boiceville, NY: Freshly baked breads, cookies, muffins,
scones, and pies.
- *American Seafood,* Long Island: Scallops, swordfish, blue fish,
clams, mussels, lobster, and MORE fresh caught wild fish from nearby waters
- *Caral Farms,* Goshen, NY: A wide assortment of vegetables grown in
the vibrant mineral rich 'Black Dirt' of Orange County. Butternut squash,
onions, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and more!
- *New York Beef*, Lagrangville, NY: Multiple cuts of GRASS FED beef
raised in New York.

Bay Ridge Farmers Market

95th St and 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

8:00AM - 3:00PM

Gutted in the 40's

Apparently, 'tis the season for gutting houses. The 50's are seeing loads of activity right now, but this house is following the example of the 43rd Street house one block away. It seems a little upside down to me (I'd feel safer starting at the top), but I know nothing about construction. It's always a little disconcerting to look through a building, isn't it? There are several supports holding up the third level; I hope everyone has his hardhat on!

ps: The tilted aspect is my poor photography skill, not the actual building.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ellis Bar and Eurotrip get Reviewed by the Big Guns

It's quite the week for eating and drinking establishments in what real estate types still insist on calling South Slope (are we really calling it SoSlo?). Ellis Bar is reviewed by The Village Voice, and Eurotrip is reviewed by The New York Times.

Devoting three paragraphs to the dangerous delights and impressive history of Ellis' fry bread, The Village Voice's review of Ellis Bar is appreciative, if confused. The Voice's reviewer was disappointed in the rattlesnake and catfish, but thrilled with the homemade pepper jelly, meatloaf, and (most of) the drinks.

See my neighbor Vanessa's reaction to her meal at Ellis Bar here. She liked the rattlesnake better than The Voice did.

The Times gives Eurotrip a slightly condescending review, that likes the gooey, fried Edam cheese and the Slavik halusky (potatoes, bacon, cheese...), but calls the wine selection a "heartfelt attempt" (can't you picture the pat on the head?) to represent central Europe. The reader is encouraged to stick to the beer and stay away from the wine. "All is forgiven" the reviewer says, if you choose the hot Berlin cider to finish up your meal. It does sound good, but for $8, I'll heat up my own cider, thanks. Perhaps there is a smaller, cheaper version available?

I Love Karma

Parking is always a risk and a challenge in Brooklyn. Alternate side parking days often have harried residents dashing into the street 10 seconds prior to (or following) the posted times. There are also other hazards like getting blocked in by a double-parked vehicle, having love notes left on your windshield (BViB tip: always leave your number in the windshield to promote neighborly relations), and of course, having your bumper/mirror attacked by a desperate attempt at squeezing into a space. The fact is, double-parking is illegal, but how else can a gas-guzzling vehicle owner (of which I am one) survive? Those of us with cars know the risks, but that doesn't make the reality sting any less when it doesn't quite work out our way.
Well, I won't go into the details, but the photos in this post show what I think is the result of Karma. I didn't gloat when I saw this, but I wasn't particularly surprised either. Let's just say that the owner's unkind actions (No, not illegal. Just unkind.) and his very possible destructive actions (I can't PROVE it, but I KNOW it.) were re-paid just a little bit today. His colorful van was back within an hour, but it took up a good chunk of his morning. That's enough for me.

Ghost Bike Arrives in Sunset Park

This is the first Ghost Bike I've heard of in Sunset Park. It's in honor of Pedro Fernandez-Pacheco, who was struck and killed by a livery cab on July 10, 2008. The Ghost Bike is on 54th and 7th. Thanks to Lauren Jaded's photostream on flickr for the photo.

Watch out for those livery cabs. Just a couple of days ago a grandmother walking in Bay Ridge was hit and left in the street on Ridge and 75th Street. It happened a little after 7 PM on the 16th (Tuesday evening). She's in critical condition at Lutheran, and she's being treated for head injuries. If you saw or heard anything about it, please call the police with the information.

Wall-E is the Friday Movie at El Pequeno Artista

Celebrate Friday's arrival with your kids by bringing them to El Pequeno Artista's showing of...


on a big screen, old fashion projector

Friday 5:15 pm
$6 / person

Juice box included for children
Bring your own snacks and eat while you watch!

El Pequeno Artista is located at 249 20th St. @ 5th Avenue.

Bring in the New While the Old is Still for Sale

This building on 6th Avenue and 46th Street has had two sets of "Condo for Sale" signs up since spring or even earlier. Along with the skinny condos for sale around the corner on 46th Street, very few - if any? - have sold. It's not clear whether they are still available for rent...have they already rented?

Anyway, since June of this year, the corner lot on 6th and 46th has been growing into a multi-unit building for which I had high hopes due to the quality of the fencing and planning. Now, the Fedders a/c shields have gone up, and even though there is a balcony on the first floor, and the brick has a certain pattern that shows more than a thrown-together care for the aesthetic, I have been let down. Sure enough, this seems like it will be just another crop of less-than-stellar, yet overpriced condominiums that may very well end up as rentals.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Stoopful of Packages

I'd like to see how this looks at night. This display is carefully arranged, and it tries to encompass the spirit of giving. I'm thinking of asking the owners to let me pose the kids on the stoop for the annual card sending extravaganza. Keep the USPS in business, I say.

When One Store Closes...

With the closure of one of the gift/music/electronics shops on 5th Avenue (this one on the corner of 45th Street), another one will be opening just across 45th Street! The large commercial space that used to house Pollo Campero will be split between the new and in full swing Amalgamated Bank and the yet-to-open Sunset Electronics Appliances Inc. Don't confuse it with 49th Street Electronics and Appliances, also on 5th Avenue.

The awning states there will be car audio (much used in Sunset), LCD TVs, and all the top name brands. I wish them well, but the amount of store fronts closing or that have been trying to get rented out seems to be rising. The new Lechonera seems to be holding its own, so maybe they'll do well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5th Avenue Stars and Snowflakes

12.12.08, originally uploaded by aprilzosia.

I love the combination of traffic lights and holiday lights. Thanks to flickr's aprilzosia for making the shots available!

Deadly Stabbing on 47th Street

It was in the name of love. On Saturday night, a husband, who is also a father of three, was stabbed to death. Apparently, although it seems the investigation is still very, very active, Lin Zhen Ren tried to help a friend who was in an altercation about a woman. When a neighbor came out, after hearing Ren's cries, he said he saw one person running away.

Tis the season for jealousy and adrenelin and testosterone, I guess. It's a tragic situation, and hopefully those involved will give up the information needed to hold those who did this responsible. Read the (scant on detail) story in the Post here.

Minimalist and Gung-Ho Decorating

I spotted this solitary ornament in the tree-bush in front of a home on 43rd Street. The more extravagant display below is courtesy of a house on 58th Street. They also had a fantastic Hallowe'en display.

Dead Brownstone Has Had Work Stopped

This very rained-on Stop Work Order at 5405 6th Avenue has been up since November. True enough, work seems to have stopped for now, but I wasn't able to find any record about why the work was stopped. (update: oh yes I did. And part of it has to do with smoking.) The sign itself is so faded that it's difficult to make any words out. Only "entire job" and the address are clear. Well, that and DO NOT REMOVE. Perhaps it's because one sign was ripped down within a day? Or, perhaps it was because the inspector noticed the "marble" facade going up on the ground floor? The horizontal light fixture is hanging precariously as well. Sad that this is what the previous building made room to allow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reminder: Sunset Park Lights Up

The Friends of Sunset Park are at it again, and that's a really good thing.

If you want to help out with the lights, sing some songs, or get more information about volunteering with Friends of Sunset Park, email

from the email:

Lighting Up The Park
on Friday, December 19th at 6pm in Sunset Park
enter near the 41st St + 5th Avenue entrance (just up the steps) for a 3-tree progressive lighting event. We will first light the tree by the lower path (near 5th Avenue), continue up the hill and light the tree (mid park- 5/6 Avenues and conclude at the lighting of the tree located in front of the Recreation Center (7th Ave. at 43rd St.). No matter which part of the Park you're near, all will be able to view at least one tree light the night this the Holiday Season.

Please spread the word throughout your respective networks. We will be e-distributing a printable flier in the next few days. All are welcome!!

  • Are you interested in accompanying the crowd in singing holiday tunes (from different countries/various languages)?
  • Would you like to read a brief poem/sing/play solo?
  • Would you be able to help hang the lights a couple of days before the 19th?
  • Do you have outdoor-quality white or multi-color lights that you'd like to give-away?
Email if you are interested in responding, making suggestions, or want more information about participating.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Other Kind of Sunset Stripper

There have been a lot of car windows needing replacement (did a new car glass place open up in Sunset ?), but this car needs a few extra bits. Check out Gunset Park's photo of a happy red car whose owner may be feeling very, very sad.

Sunset Christmas Lights

It's nothing compared to near-by Dyker, but Sunset has a few lights and decorations out as well. This is a cute stoop on 44th Street.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Need an End of the Year Tax Deduction? Consider the Fresh Air Fund

What's the connection to Sunset Park, you ask? Well, we happen to have quite a few local kids who participate in the program. Some even include my students! Their reviews of the experience are uniformly positive. This is a fantastic program, and it deserves support. If you are looking for a donation opportunity, check out the information and the link below.

You can give a child the experience of a lifetime with your gift to The Fresh Air Fund!

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities. Whether it’s a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities. We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

Your year-end gift will allow us to invite even more children to experience Fresh Air summers full of learning, fun and new friends. Thank you so much for your generous support.

The Fresh Air Fund is also looking for hosts for the summer:

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air vacations. More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year. There is no such thing as a "typical" host family. If you have room in your home - and your heart - to host a child, you could be one too.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who reside in low-income communities in New York City and are eager to experience the simple pleasures of life outside the city.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shara Worden is Doing the Rounds

When new movies come out, the actors show up on talk shows and entertainment shows. When a tour comes to town, or a new album is released, the musicians are interviewed by TimeOut and, apparently, Gothamist. Shara Worden is doing her duty as My Brightest Diamond's leader.

Check out how TONY highlights Shara Worden's apartment, and read the Gothamist Q&A here.

The image is the cover of A Thousand Shark's Teeth, the new album from My Brightest Diamond.

Sunset Garden Hopefuls Meet Tomorrow

While regular meetings to work on a Sunset Park (technically Borough Park?) will be the last Saturday of every month once the new year begins, December's meeting is tomorrow at 10:30 AM.
Here's the run-down:

When: Saturday, December 13th at 10:30 AM
Where: Meet at the Chinese bakery on 9th Avenue between 37th and 38th
What: Share information and report back to the group about several items including:

Meet and greet for new members, update on contacts, historical information of the site, plans and drawings of the garden, naming the garden.

Speak Out about 3rd Avenue Issues and Concerns

Community Board 7 invites you to a PUBLIC SPEAK OUT on 3rd Avenue Issues on December 15th.

Come share your thoughts and concerns about the current conditions and the future of 3rd Avenue in Sunset Park.

Come to PS 1's Auditorium at 309 47th Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues) on Monday, December 15th at 6:30 PM.

Participants (this means you!) are allowed up to three minutes to speak. Written testimony of any length is encouraged.

For more information, please call the Board Office at 718-854-0003 or email

Winter Activities for the Wee Ones

Cold weather means fewer trips to the park and more time figuring out how to keep the kid(s) occupied without numbing their brains and frying yours. Well, thankfully, one solution has arrived. El Pequeno Artista's winter 2009 schedule is set!

El Pequeño Artista
is the place that has offered a free story-time in Spanish on Wednesday mornings for the last year. They also offer classes ranging from cooking to movement to Spanish to music. They also have movies on Friday evenings (or is 5:15 still the afternoon?).

Families who have taken classes previously have an extra incentive: Returning families get $12 off the chosen workshop if you register and pay by December 20th.

Check out the schedule; the classes run from January 20th through March 28th. Also, make plans to attend one of the free trial classes during the week of January 12 through the 17th. The trial schedule will be posted soon.

El Pequeño Artista is located at 249 20th Street @ 5th Avenue. Call 718-965-1406 for more information. It's an easy bus ride down 5th, or just take the train to Prospect Avenue or 25th Street. (I prefer the bus.)

Local Slide Show from a Local Photographer

If you're longing for Sunset Park in warmer weather, check out this slide show from Vanessa at veesvision. It takes you through a few seasons, and it's a lovely tour around the neighborhood.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

McGovern Weir Explained

For some reason, I thought that this structure (McGovern Weir, the photo is from flickr on uberzombie's photostream) traveled here from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, but I will acquiesce to more learned fans of the glass building. Anyone who has walked past the 5th Avenue florist outside of Green-Wood Cemetery's main entrance must have wondered about the dome of glass that houses the McGovern Florist shop. It's pretty darn cool.

Check out the handy explanation of its history on GowanusLounge. The text comes from Ruth Edebohls, the Coordinator of Urban Tours at the Center for the Urban Environment. She, in turn, acknowledges the work that Andrew Dolkart performed in his report to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1982.

Sunset Park DJ Interviewed by Fellow Musician

I'm surely far too un-hip to know about DJ/Rupture (or is it just Rupture?) on my own, but I do hear about certain people and events thanks to neighbors and some old-school mixed with new-fangled research skills. (And that's how I found this fantastic portrait of DJ/Rupture. I thank orienomada at flickr for sharing images with the public.)

DJs, to me, mean radio personalities and unseen mixers of dance tunes at Body and Soul (not the current party, when it was cheaper, in Tribeca, and not at Webster Hall). And this video highlights a local guy who seems to do a little of both. The reason I am sharing this is because the clips of his music that are included in the interview are pretty darn excellent. The veggie dance animation is a little art school-ish, but who cares? At least it's veggies.

The beginning of the interview (which begins with a smart, colorful backdrop choice of the music mural up from 5th Avenue) is on 45th Street, and follows Rupture on the R train and into Manhattan to do his show at WFMU (I think that's the set of call letters I saw on the video). About Sunset Park, he talks about the huge amount of stores that cater to Latin Music around us. In fact, there are fewer now than just a few years ago. This Dutty Artz video is worth a few minutes of time, anyway. Here you go. And if you want to know more about him after seeing it, do a search or just go here.

St. Jacobi Hosts its Messiah Community Sing-In on December 14

Need some help getting into the holiday spirit? Want more music in your life? Prefer holiday music when its indoors and live? Like free events? Well, stop by St. Jacobi's Messiah Community Sing-In on December 14th at 4 PM. The Sing-In will be conducted by Dr. Thomas Schmidt, the director of music for St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan.

St. Jacobi is located on 4th Avenue at 54th Street, and its concerts are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Belated Photos of the CUE Sunset Park Walking Tour

GreenScaper very kindly gave me permission to post his photos. His set of the Sunset Park, Brooklyn Walking Tour is definitely worth a look.

I like this photo in particular because of the many layers of residential, industrial, water, New Jersey, and sky. Let's hope we keep this view for a long, long time.

And Now: The Rainbow Cafe is for Rent

I guess the $3 Million sales price was a bit much right now. If you want to rent the Rainbow Cafe, however, it is still available.

Sunday Art Tour - Sunset's Tabla Rasa is on the Green Loop

If you want to check out some art for free, Sunday is one of the best days to take part. Tabla Rasa Gallery is the Sunset Park offering to this smART tour. Tabla Rasa is currently showing Nobis Solo; the accompanying photo is from that exhibit. The HUB for the Green Loop (which includes Sunset Park) is the Brooklyn Museum of Art. So, if you want to sign up for it, you can get a visit in to the BMA as well as the other Green Loop stops (which goes through Crown Heights, Park Slope, Gowanus, Sunset, and Flatbush) and then "hop off" for Tabla Rasa on your way home.

It seems like you have to get on at the beginning, but perhaps I'm reading it wrong. You can, however, hop on and off to enjoy whichever galleries on the loop you wish to see. Madarts on 18th and 5th has been especially good on previous open houses, so I recommend stopping there. Then you can get something to eat at Ellis or get a coffee at Southside (on 6th Avenue) while you're at it.

See below for more information. Or, you can download the PDF here:

Make sure you register!!

smART • December 14, 2008 • How to Participate

• Register by phone: 718-802-3530 or email:

You must give your name, phone number or email, and specify which hub
and time you want (e.g., 2pm BLUE loop). Please note that you may only
make reservations for 2 people. Seating is limited - we will accommodate
people without reservations only after seating people with reservations!

• Buses leave on the hour: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm*

Please arrive at the hub location at least 15 minutes before departure.
Schedules for each loop will be handed out on the bus.

*The 5pm bus is the last trip for the day – please be advised it has NO return loop! • Enjoy hopping on & off the bus within each line’s loop! Please note this is not a door-to-door service. (Galleries will be within approximately three blocks of each stop)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SPAN Hosts a Tribute to Human Rights

From the flyer and email, it seems like the screening of "Rezoning Harlem" is the extent of the tribute. The title and sub-title, on the other hand, make it sound like there will be discussion and information session. This tribute is called Housing is a Human Right! Check out the information about the event that's happening tomorrow night.

Housing is a Human Right!

The proposed changes in the zoning of Sunset Park threaten
to bring us high rents, luxury condos and much higher rents.

Featuring a screening of
a film by Tamara Gubernat and Natasha Florentino
Learn about how the current rezoning plan in Harlem will hurt
local small businesses and residents.

Wed. Dec. 10, 2008 6:30 PM
Trinity Lutheran Church
4th Ave bet 45-46 St. Sunset Park, Brooklyn
R Train to 45 St.
Sponsored by the Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors (SPAN)
For more info call 718-853-0949 or email
Refreshments and Childcare will be available

Does the Music Annoy You?

Let me just say that I am an avid fan of The Brian Lehrer Show. He's even my friend on Facebook. Really. But I think that Brian Lehrer had a slow day yesterday. He had a decently long segment based on one of his friend's complaints (a friend who happens to live in Sunset Park!) about the holiday music that the Sunset Park BID has been playing on 5th Avenue since Thanksgiving.

Considering that the Sunset Park BID is not alone in piping holiday music along a shopping avenue, and considering that it also happened last year, it's not really news. However, since I always have WNYC on in the background when I am able, my attention was consumed by the "drama." Of course, there wasn't much drama. Some callers (mainly NOT from Sunset Park) complained about holiday music in general and whether or not it was even legal for the BID to pipe religious music (like Presley's "Blue Christmas") into a public area.

According to Ms. Giordano, of the Sunset Park BID, the music is shared with the shopping community for seven hours a day, and the BID is trying to be sensitive about the volume. I have no idea when it starts or stops, but I'm sure it's not too early or late to be aggravating to late-risers or early-to-bedders.

One caller, a Sunset resident who lives half a block from 5th Avenue, said that it's too loud and she can hear it from her living room. Granted, that would be annoying. And with some warmer weather coming this week, windows might be opening. I also live half a block from 5th Avenue, and I've never heard it from my apartment. (Full disclosure: Some people - like my students and my husband - think I might be hard-of-hearing.)

Is it really that annoying or offensive to hear holiday music in the streets for a month? Personally, I'm not particularly religious. I go to services on Christmas Eve because I like the candles and because my parents appreciate it. I do look forward to hearing The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" every year, but I have had quite enough of "Dominick the Donkey." Okay, maybe once or twice a season, even a few "Hee Haws" are okay. I love hearing the first Adam Sandler "Hanukkah Song," but I think the next couple of versions are poor sequels. Would it make a difference if the songs were completely secular? Does "Jingle Bells" count as a non-religious song? How about "Deck the Halls" or "Frosty the Snowman" or "Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer"? Hmmm. That mentions Christmas Eve, so maybe not.

It could be that just the additional sound on the street is what aggravates those who want the music stopped. But aren't the guys with amps who share their views on Jesu Cristo more aggravating? Those guys I DO hear from my half a block away from 5th Avenue apartment.

I wonder if the Sunset Park BID could get Joni Mitchell's "River" piped in. I'd defend hearing JM to anyone, even Brian Lehrer.

Does anyone else have real opinions about this?

One Day Only! Free Shuttle to Brooklyn Fun Spots

I didn't get the email until after the 2nd Saturday of November, but the December 13th shuttle offered by Heart of Brooklyn is still coming! The last stop on the shuttle route is actually in Sunset Park, and it will take you to the front entrance of the following places: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library (GAP), Prospect Park, and the Prospect Park Zoo. I'm sure it's a much more pleasant ride than taking the R and switching at Pacific, or even taking a couple of buses. Check out the schedule for December 13th. Depending on how crowded it gets, it might be worth venturing into Bay Ridge to wait at the 4th and Bay Ridge Avenue shuttle stop. What follows comes from the website/email:

Saturday Scene is free regular transportation to central Brooklyn from select neighborhoods in Brooklyn, running continuous loops from 10am-6pm. Serving Bay Ridge (second Saturdays), Red Hook (third Saturdays), and Williamsburg (fourth Saturdays), the shuttle makes its way to the main entrances of the cultural institutions in the Heart of Brooklyn.

BAY RIDGE STOPS (second Saturday: December 13)
Museum Mile to Brooklyn StyleCentury 21 Store on 86th St. (472 86th St.)
Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style10am, 1pm, 3:30pm, (6pm drop off only)

Museum Mile to Brooklyn StyleBay Ridge Library, Corner of Ridge Blvd & 73rd St.
Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style10:10am, 1:10pm, 3:40pm

Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style4th Ave at Bayridge Ave
Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style10:20am, 1:20pm, 3:50pm

Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style4th Ave at 51st St.
Museum Mile to Brooklyn Style10:30am, 1:30pm, 4pm

One More Reason to Visit Green-Wood Cemetery

The New York Times had an article about Green-Wood's art collection. There is a slide show of various works, and information about how the collection began. Check it out here.

The cut below is from the NYT slide show: an example of the well-known Green-Wood Tiffany windows.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Fading Ad" Gives Sunset Walls a Visit

Fading Ad Blog by Frank H. Jump always makes for an interesting visit. Even more so when it's in Sunset Park. For me, anyway.

Check it out here.

Center for Family Life's Food Pantry is "Bare"

The Food Pantries in the area have lost a lot of their usual donations due to the very bad economic times.

According to Anne Sherman, a board member for the Center for Family Life, the food shelves in their pantry (which services families in Sunset Park) are BARE. The food stuffs that they normally receive have diminished because of the growing need around the City.

She writes:

As you can imagine, this is a huge concern for us, because we know that, in addition to the families that already rely on this food, the number of families in need will only grow in the coming months. The Center's staff estimates that it would cost us $1,000/week if we were to stock the shelves by purchasing food ourselves. Contributions are most welcome and greatly appreciated! Many thanks for your generosity and care.

If you would like to write a check and designate it for the food pantry, please make the check out to "Center for Family Life" and write "food pantry" in the memo line. Or, if it's better for you, donations can also be made on our website with a credit card - click on "support CFL" on the left of the home page ( Please indicate that it is a donation for food in the comments section of the online form. If you are mailing a check or delivering food, the address is: Center for Family Life, 343 43rd Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11232. Call 718 788 3500 with any questions.

One of the co-directors, Julia Jean-Francois, explains: We have never had so few donations from our usual sources...The result is that folks in the community who have lost jobs and are not able to find work or who just can't make ends meet are coming more and more to get very basic pantry donations of rice, dry beans and really anything...

So head on over to the Center for Family Life's Food Pantry at 5505 4th Avenue with your donation of non-perishables or money. Monetary donations are often preferred because the Center can purchase items in bulk. However, nothing is too small or insignificant. As was mentioned, rice and dry beans are basics that everyone can use. Also, that box of elbow pasta that you never seem to use or that can of peas and carrots you just don't heat up or that two-pack of tuna you never opened would all make lovely donations. All three would be even better!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

B37 is on the Chopping Block

Bay Ridge Blog has a great run-down of the threatened lines that affect this area of Brooklyn, and the B37 is pretty much the only route that he thinks should be kept, no questions. Here's what he has to say:

Don't Even Think of Getting Rid of the Third Avenue Bus

The B37 bus runs faster than the sluggish Fifth Avenue bus. If you take it all the way to downtown Brooklyn, you'll see that lots of people use it, especially older people who are nervous about taking the crowded subway or who have a hard time navigating the subway steps.

If this service is removed, the entire Third Avenue corridor that runs under the creaking horror that is the Gowanus Expressway will be turned into a lifeless desert. Elimination of the Third Avenue Bus cannot be considered

The Brooklyn Paper has an article that echoes many of his (and his commenters) points. The main complaint comes from those who have trouble getting up and down the subway station steps. The 3rd Avenue bus only has two or three steps, and it's not much slower than the R train. Well, not too much slower. The Brooklyn Paper article has links to various petitions to save bus lines, but here's the link to the B37 petition.

The B37 is often ignored by those of us in Sunset Park, at least those who live closer to 5th Avenue. However, it's often faster than taking 5th Avenue (fewer double-parking issues), and it's a direct route to downtown Brooklyn, and you can avoid the crowded Park Slope stops. It's also very useful and quick for getting to Bay Ridge from Sunset.

If you so desire, add you voice to the SAVE the B37! petition. You just might thank yourself later.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Puebla Mini Market Enjoys the "Village" Spotlight

If you read reviews on Chowhound or other food oriented sites, you already know that Puebla Mini Market has a reputation for amazing tortas. What keeps it from being swamped with Torta Tourists is that the sandwich counter is all the way in the back of the market. However, as The Village Voice points out, the journey to the back of the Mini Market is worth it.

Check out the review, and then pick up a torta from Puebla some time soon.

The same reviewer gives some attention to another Sunset shop: New Public Meat Market. It's called an adventure...but really it's just a shop, like any other, but with more meat choices.

Community Board 7 Brings Back Its Toy Drive

It's the season for toys, and CB7 wants your NEW and unwrapped toys or clothing for our community's children. Don't try to pawn off that toy your kid no longer likes...this stuff should be new!

from the email:

Community Board #7’s 21st Annual Holiday Gift Drive

Community Board #7 is accepting donations of UNWRAPPED NEW TOYS & CLOTHING for girls & boys, from newborn to 12 years of age.

Please bring your donations to our office at 4201 4th Avenue (corner of 43rd Street & 4th Avenue) no later than FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19!!

If you wish to make a monetary donation, please contact our office at 718-854-0003 or email at for further information. These donations will be given to the needy children in this community.

Busted Break-In on 45th Street

Good news and bad news.

First, the bad news: It's not only cars that suffer break-ins! A neighbor reports that a house on 45th Street was broken into and at least two houses on 44th Street were used as getaway routes, or, perhaps the houses were being cased for robberies as well. Residents of 44th Street buildings with yards facing the unlucky 45th Street house found items including a cell phone and a gold watch in their backyards. Apparently, another building's garbage had a large amount of cash stashed behind it. Either someone was in a rush, or the Easter Bunny has arrived a little early.

The good news? Based on Police Officer guided German Shepherd noses, body odor detected on the watch and cell phone helped to apprehend two suspects who both had thousands of dollars on them.

Thanks to the residents who called the police to alert them about strange items in their yards. Keep your eyes, ears, and apparently noses alert and call 911 if you sense strange or dangerous behavior around your way. Seriously, let's all help to keep the neighborhood safer.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bay Ridge Green Market is Still Going

Well, our Green Market had its last day just before Thanksgiving. We'll have to wait until JULY (why not earlier??) for the next one here. If you don't want to travel into Park Slope, Bay Ridge has a Green Market that will go on through December 27th. It's Saturdays from 8 AM to 3 PM.
It's located on 3rd Avenue at 95th Street. You can take the 3rd Avenue bus or the R train to the end of the line.

I'm not sure if this Green Market also accepts WIC/EBT, but hopefully they will.

Here's some information about the vendors/farmers from the organizer. It's not guaranteed that all these farms/items will be there, but it's obviously very different and much higher-end than the Sunset Park market.
  • Hector Perez, Alex Farm, Milford, NJ: apples, pears, tomatoes and assorted vegetables
  • Water Bufalo di Vermont, Woodstock, VT: YOGURT, cheeses including the famous buffalo milk mozzarella, salami
  • Bread Alone, Boiceville, NY: Thanksgiving satples like STUFFING mix, assorted breads to make your own, PIES, and too many varieties of cookies, muffins, scones, and more to name!
  • American Seafood, Long Island: Scallops, swordfish, blue fish, clams, mussels, and MORE fresh caught wild fish from nearby waters
  • Caral Farms, Goshen, NY: A wide assortment of vegetables grown in the vibrant mineral rich 'Black Dirt' of Orange County. Butternut squash, onions, potatoes, HERBS, carrots, and more!
  • New York Beef, Lagrangville, NY: Multiple cuts of GRASS FED beef raised in New York. ****This week rancher John Gagliardi and his sons will be at the market to answer your questions about the grass-fed advantage.****
  • Silvermine Apiary, Norwalk,CT: Andrew Cote is back with his luscious, local, RAW honey and soaps, too! For a decidedly new honey sensation try the whipped honey!

43rd Street's Construction

43rd Street has been under construction for a long time...over six months at this point. It has been slow going, and riddled with stops and starts, but things are really moving now!

On my last trip to Ba Xuyen on my once in a while lunch splurge, I walked down 43rd Street to check out the progress. Here's what I saw:

At 413-415, I ran into another interested on-looker. We commiserated about the anticipated changes coming to the block. He owns three building on the 8th to 9th block of 43rd, and he, like I, believes that the new building will look something like the one on 6th Avenue that replaced a brownstone (see left hand photo). The two homes that were town down were not particularly lovely, but they fit in with this side of the block. (This is one of the blocks with some houses that have not used siding to hide the funky faces on the facades.) We both dread seeing the new building...hopefully it won't be as bad as we anticipate.

What we did see were workers who got agitated when they noticed us standing outside (because I'm so scary with my baby carrier and all), and then they tried to close the gate. They failed to fully close it due to items strewn about. That's why, while I didn't get a photo of the very deep hole crisscrossed with steel, I did get a photo of their pile of dirt. That, and the level that was carefully stored on the dirt.

This construction site still has a months' old $2500 fine that has not yet been paid. It was for blocking and injuring the neighboring building's walkway. They have solved several other complaints, including noise...but my guess is there will be more to come.

Speaking of complaints, the other end of the block, at 765, was served by the Supreme Court of NYS. Apparently, it's about unsafe building and structure issues. Someone (not me, I swear!) tried to remove it and has read what's inside the notice, judging from the removed and carelessly re-applied tape. I haven't been able to find anything about the issues yet, but maybe it will show up soon. The site was active, and while only the outdoor staircase remains of this over-sized lot, most of the debris has been removed. No digging has happened yet...maybe before the first snows?

"Lighting it Up" in Sunset Park

The Friends of Sunset Park are at it again, and that's a really good thing.

If you want to help out with the lights, sing some songs, or get more information about volunteering with Friends of Sunset Park, email

from the email:

Lighting Up The Park
on Friday, December 19th at 6pm in Sunset Park
enter near the 41st St + 5th Avenue entrance (just up the steps) for a 3-tree progressive lighting event. We will first light the tree by the lower path (near 5th Avenue), continue up the hill and light the tree (mid park- 5/6 Avenues and conclude at the lighting of the tree located in front of the Recreation Center (7th Ave. at 43rd St.). No matter which part of the Park you're near, all will be able to view at least one tree light the night this the Holiday Season.

Please spread the word throughout your respective networks. We will be e-distributing a printable flier in the next few days. All are welcome!!

  • Are you interested in accompanying the crowd in singing holiday tunes (from different countries/various languages)?
  • Would you like to read a brief poem/sing/play solo?
  • Would you be able to help hang the lights a couple of days before the 19th?
  • Do you have outdoor-quality white or multi-color lights that you'd like to give-away?
Email if you are interested in responding, making suggestions, or want more information about participating.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

St. Agatha's Holiday Fair is this Weekend

Need some holiday items to spruce up your place? Want to support a local school? Like to browse through various tchotchkes hoping to find that special something? Well, here's your chance!

St. Agatha's annual Holiday Fair is this Sunday, December 7th, from 9 AM to 3 PM. St. Agatha's is on 48th Street and 7th Avenue. Call 718-435-3137 for more information.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sunset's Own Tree Lighting

It may not be as grand as the Rockefeller Center tree, but you'll get a better view. On December 4th at 4 PM, the Sunset Park BID and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica will be hosting the Holiday Tree Ceremony at the corner of 60th and 5th Avenue.

There will be music from various groups and schools, and a magic show is scheduled by "King Henry." Also, kids will be able to have their photo taken with Santa from 3-4 PM. Get there early because there are free gift bags, and we've all seen the lines that these events bring with them. Crazy!

Check it out!