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Future Mate: OKCupid Stories for the Drone Wars


When your children come in from a long day scavenging for food in the irradiated exurbs and ask for a story while the family is gathered around the meager rubbage fire in the gunshot-punctuated evening, what better one to share than the tale of how you and your partner were first brought together by the barely-functioning totalitarian state?

This is the fairytale romance that you live as a member of the audience at Future Mate, a participatory theater experience that sets you in a wonderfully awkward dating event thrown by a comically despotic government organization seeking to unite the few remaining fertile singles of a fractured world. Continue reading

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Dear Bill: Responding to the 10/15 Mayoral Debate

Bill, I say this as someone who has supported your campaign since before you were thought of as a viable candidate: I have never been closer to voting for your opponent than I am after watching your performance tonight.

Don’t misinterpret that statement: I’m still voting for you. Continue reading

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Captured Tracks, Our New Downstairs Neighbor

Laser-cut wood sign over diamondplateAround six months ago I saw diamond plate going up on a renovated wall at 195 Calyer street, just east of Manhattan avenue. I wrote it off at the time as simply the ugliest siding I had yet seen in a neighborhood that knows its ugly siding.

Katie Garcia, general manager at Captured Tracks records, swears that while their wooden sign may hang over it the label had nothing to do with the diamond plate. Seeing the shop and offices a few steps below it – a bit more tasteful on the whole – I’m inclined to believe her. Continue reading

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Blood and Rubble: Williamsburg Fashion Weekend S/S 2014

Four months and twenty days before 11 designers debuted their latest collection on the stage at the venue Villain on North 3rd St for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, garment workers in Bangladesh were ordered to return to work in a building that was already beginning to show signs of structural failure serious enough to keep the other businesses in it shuttered.  It collapsed shortly thereafter, causing 1,129 individual humans to be crushed and suffocated by concrete and rubble.

Arthur Arbit, the local tailor who started Williamsburg Fashion Weekend in 2006, opened this year’s event by pointing out that there is no way to produce a $15 blouse for H&M without the garment being soaked in someone’s blood; this year it may be appropriate to adjust that to say that there’s rubble in the pockets of your Levi’s.  Arthur’s event provides copious evidence that industrial fashion, although difficult to avoid, is not our only option. Continue reading

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Points of View, Literally: Save Greenpoint and Reasonable Development

On Wednesday’s crisp afternoon, a crowd that estimated itself at somewhere between 65 and 100 gathered to renew the call to action to prevent two (literally) looming developments from progressing without further input from the community.  Organized by city council hopeful Stephen Pierson and neighborhood organization Save Greenpoint, the gathering was intended to raise awareness and support for a campaign of legal and community actions intended to prevent or at least stall the currently planned waterfront developments from manifesting in their presently intended forms. Continue reading

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Battery Harris and the DOT: A Love Story

When opening a new bar, coming away with a positive experience from a community board meeting presided over by a group hawkishly vigilant of both new liquor licenses and rapidly-vanishing parking spaces is no small feat, especially if in addition to drinks you’re trying to serve up a new pedestrian plaza.

However, sitting down with Etan Fraiman, who recently opened bar/restaurant Battery Harris on the once-desolate corner of Frost & Meeker along with partner David Shapiro, makes it sound like the easiest thing in the world – all you need is a little help from the DOT and a willingness to see your business in the greater context of the streetscape.

The owners of Battery Harris were actually tipped off to the DOT’s Pedestrian Plaza Program by the community board itself, and had nothing but praise for the city agency that not so long ago was referred to by many as “the department of No” for their conservative attitude towards innovation in street design.  Continue reading

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Community Meeting Notes: Greenpoint Landing & 77 Commercial St


“We’re creating a neighborhood on the waterfront.”

These were the poorly-chosen words of Melanie Meyers, a representative for the Greenpoint Landing development.  She appeared alongside representatives of the development at 77 Commercial Street and from various city agencies before a room filled beyond capacity at the McCarren Recreation Center on Monday evening to present preliminary plans for the developments threatening to deposit over 6,100 units of additional housing upon the north Brooklyn waterfront across the next decade.  While it’s unclear what, if any, new information was conveyed to the public at the meeting, the response from the audience was clear: Greenpoint already has a neighborhood, thank you very much.

The details of the developments remained vague on many points, but the general outlines of their deal with the city are coming into focus. In exchange for development rights (purchased for what Ms. Meyers estimated for Greenpoint Landing at $8 million for 295,000 square feet, or about $27 per square foot) Greenpoint will be tossed the proverbial bone in the form of 631 units of affordable housing, 4.5 acres of city-owned park, about 2,000 square feet of publicly-accessible waterfront,  and a 640 seat school. Part of this deal involves acquiring air rights from the MTA property at 65 commercial street; in order to use these air rights to build a 30-40 story tower instead of a 15 story tower, 77 Commercial still needs to secure an exception to allow for the soaring heights of R-8 zoning instead of its current R-6.

Aside from clarifications to these numbers, representatives of the developers did not meaningfully answer any questions or address any neighborhood concerns.  Chief among those raised was the impending specter of a socioeconomically divided Greenpoint, with the waterfront belonging to the wealthy in towers whose business would be conducted in Manhattan and the rest relegated to their shadows cast on Manhattan Avenue. Transportation, which weighs heavily on the mind of any rush-hour G train commuter, was mentioned but met with a familiar response:  we’ll do the studies when required by the development process.  All of these non-answers served only to reinforce the main sentiment that this development is incongruous with the neighborhood and is not part of a comprehensive plan but rather is a short-sighted capitalization on valuable, newly-available waterfront.

People seemed dismayed by the lack of clear intentions coming from the developers coupled with a lack of clear leadership from representatives.  Stephen Levin, District 33 representative, offered vague advice to ‘organize, organize, organize’ but appeared primarily interested in making it clear to voters that he was not in office when the 2005 rezoning was pushed forward.  Similarly, Christopher Olechowski, representing community board 1, made it repeatedly clear that they had rejected in its entirety the development plans for the waterfront only to have them pushed through by the city regardless.  If we wish to have a say in anything more meaningful than the placement of a park bench or two, it is clear that we will need to align the powerful undercurrents of resistance felt at this meeting, and do it quickly.

I have done my best to record all numbers accurately as I heard them, but please correct me on any mistaken details.

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Spring Greenpoint CSA Roundup!

Robyn Van En, Pioneer of the CSA Movement

Every weekend many of us hit the farmers market circuit, navigating between Union Square Park, Union St, and Russell St in an effort to avoid the wilted offerings found at the Super A. However, there’s a simpler way: a plethora of local CSAs (community supported agriculture) – essentially a prepaid share of a farm’s produce that offer us the chance to avoid the vagaries of choice and opt instead to support a small farm that in turn supports us.

Below are several of the CSAs from which we Greenpointers can choose.  Is your CSA listed? Is it missing? Love your CSA? Have any recipes? Canning secrets?  Let us know in the comments.

Vegetable CSAs
Note that prices are listed for full, weekly shares.  Other options may be available.

Rachel Mae’s CSA: picks up at Cafe Grumpy (193 Meserole Ave), $600/24-week season.
Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA: Picks up at McCarren or McGolrick Park.  Weekly shares are $595/275/155/66 for veggies/fruit/flowers/eggs and $200 for a bi-weekly cheese share.
Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative: Picks up at Eastern District (1053 Manhattan Ave), so be sure to budget extra for irresistible cheese.  $725 for a 25-week season.
Southside CSA:  Picks up at The Woods (48 S 4th St).  Dizzying array of share options, so best to check their website for information.  Donates to the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen!
Lineage Farm CSA:  Picks up at the Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton St.)
Partners Trace: Picks up at TBD (224 Franklin St) & Huckleberry Bar (588 Grand St) 20 weeks / egg shares / flower shares / berry shares / orchard shares / canned good shares

Fish CSAs
I’m particularly excited by the fish CSAs available, as they provide a good, sustainable source of fresh fish, something Greenpoint lacks outside of smoked offerings or the farmer’s market stalls.  I’ve heard great things about both of these.

Mermaid’s Garden CSF: Picks up at Urban Rustic.  $33/week for a 2-2.25 lb delivery, $16.50 for a 1.25 lb delivery.  Possible add-ons/substitutions for shellfish.

Gabe the Fish Babe: Details online are scarce but she was enthusiastically recommended.  The fish club is apparently full at the moment, but join the mailing list on the website for updates.

Eat locally, Greenpoint!

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North Brooklyn Boat Club Holds First Member’s Meeting of 2013

This article made possible by a donation to our Writer’s Fund from local reader donations!

Things are looking up for the North Brooklyn Boat Club.  Even a hurricane couldn’t wipe the polish off their first year in the water, which took the group from mere plans and papers to a modest 20-vessel navy regularly plying the local waters.  On April 2nd the group met again to kick off their second season as a fully-operational club, and the message of the night was simple: let’s get more butts in boats.

The key points made at the meeting all supported this theme.  Membership fees are effectively reduced by $20 for the year: last year members were asked to contribute $30 to the club and needed a separate $30 membership to the American Canoe Association in order to be covered by that group’s trip insurance.  This year the club has a blanket policy with them so a $40 fee paid to the NBBC directly obviates the need for individual ACA membership.  Members were also encouraged to start down the safety training path that will result in access to club boats outside of scheduled group excursions, helping to foster a feeling of individual access to the water.  Finally, opportunities abound for individuals to get involved in a number of ways:  besides the obvious operational groups, subcommittees are working on gardening and green roofs for the space, woodworking and boat-building, and citizen science related to water quality and biology, just to name a few, providing niches for almost any related skill.

If you’re interested, there is still plenty of time this season to join up and get involved.  Check out their website, follow the group on the various social media, or just look for smoke coming from the waterfront fire pit and introduce yourself.

 

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Meet the Designers: Williamsburg Fashion Weekend

This article made possible by a donation to our Writer’s FundRaffle by Selamat Pagi.

Design by Natalia Kraynina with KACI HEAD

There are few better signs that you picked the right thing to wear to an event than walking in and finding that the designer of your clothes went with the same choice.  While normally finding your twin out in public is an annoyance, at Williamsburg Fashion Weekend it’s a sign of maturity: styles incubated in their most intense forms on the stage here bleed onto the bodies in the crowd and out the doors towards the street.

In the most recent occurrence of the biannual show this past Friday and Saturday, the scene opened with terse, politically pointed words from charismatic frontman Arthur Arbit: it’s simply not possible to come home from H&M or Bloomingdale’s with a $29 blouse without slave-like labor being involved in some stage of that supply chain.  He then quickly stepped aside to show us several dreams and a couple nightmares of the alternative.  Selected photos are below, but you can find my full gallery from the first night here.

The first showing of the night was Uta Brauser (photos in gallery) with her Got Armor? collection.  Meant to be a critique of modern gun violence, the stylish vests and shields of this collection are perhaps too plausible, and I loved the image of models pantomiming classic runway moves as they deflected the on-stage barrage of (soft foam) bullets. Continue reading

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