By Ona A

About Ona A

Ona Abelis is a Brooklyn poet & journalist. Follow her on Twitter & IG @obelis as she follows her dreams.

A Labor of Love: Kim Masson Debuts Her Novel at WORD Tonight (08/03)

K&T Pose 02
Author Kim Masson and her husband, artist Teo Gonzalez \ Photos: Rosie de Belgeonne

“Online dating can work,” insists Kelly Brixi, heroine of Kim Masson’s debut novel, Craig’s List Chronicles: byte-size tales. “I know a girl who met her husband that way. When they got married, they gave out little chocolate computers as gifts.” The year is 2000, and Kelly is heading off to a blind date at the Met. She runs through the safety precautions with her best friend and hopes for the best, at least when it comes to looks, because she’s never seen her date before.

“Back then, Craigslist did not have pictures,” explains Masson (because I was born in the late ’80s and have no memory of those times), “blind dates were true blind dates.”

We’re sitting outside at Baoburg, where a few diners are bent determinedly over their phones, and I turn my microphone app on, slide it across the table, and begin asking Masson the hard questions about writing your first novel, indie publishing, and meeting the love of your life online. Continue reading

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The Best Haircuts? At Freddy Vazquez’s ‘Fade 2 Famous’ Barbershop

 All photos c/o Rosie de Belgeonne
Freddy Vazquez, owner of Fade 2 Famous, in his barbershop on a busy day
All photos c/o Rosie de Belgeonne

“I was born here, and I’ve lived here all my life,” explains Freddy Vazquez, the owner of Fade 2 Famous barbershop in Greenpoint, “and I just made twenty years cutting hair this year.” His shop is a neat space with six black leather chairs, big windows, and wall-sized mirrors, located on the same block as the fire station and across the street from the Key Food. When I arrive, two customers are having their hair cut and everyone seems to be a good mood: The perfect time to ask some important questions.

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Show Off Your Writing Chops at -The Prose Bowl- Open Mic (08/18)

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c/o Christopher Green

It’s time to dust off your moleskine notebooks! There’s a new open mic series for fiction writers—The Prose Bowl—starting this Tuesday, August 18 at Pete’s Candy Store, and it’s going to get fierce. “It’s sort of a competition, but a really lighthearted one,” says co-founder Christopher Green. “Slightly American Idol-ish.”

Unlike your regular fiction reading series, The Prose Bowl will have a judging panel and a (hopefully) rowdy audience that will cheer on the four readers. There’s a strict time limit that gives each writer enough space to read about 900 words—flash fiction style. “You read, and then we discuss the story for a few minutes,” says Green. “And at the end, we’ll declare a winner, who will get—I believe—a free drink and perhaps also a small token prize from me and the co-founder.”

We recently caught up with Green to ask the important questions.

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‘Greenpoint: The Transition’ Is Your Little Slice of Polish Culture

All images c/o Cultureshock.pl
All images c/o Cultureshock.pl

Sure, you may have been a regular at Lomzynianka before they closed inexplicably “for renovations” a few months ago. And, sure, you’re always at Cafe Riviera in the mornings for a coffee and a pączek. But, did you know that there’s a way to dive deeper into Polish culture right here in Greenpoint?

For the past year a half, Greenpoint: The Transition has been bringing a little slice of Polish culture to our neighborhood by way of workshops, food tastings, musical performances, fun activities, and street fairs. Recently, we caught up with Marta Pawlaczek, who helms The Transition, to talk about the ‘hood, the food, and, of course, the changes. Continue reading

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Working From Home? Check Out These Greenpoint Cafes

c/o SweetFoxCafe.com
c/o SweetFoxCafe.com

Our little neighborhood is home to a lot of cafes—from your quick go-to spot (that’s you, Cup) to your second-home-away-from home (thank you, Cafe Grumpy) to everything in between. If you’re a freelancer, however, some of the cafes are better for you than others because they consistently offer the essentials (like free WiFi, an empty seat, good coffee, and decent music). Some may have it all but come with baggage (like spotty WiFi, sparse seating, bad music, or lots of babies). And some don’t have anything to offer you (except for good coffee on your day off). So, where should you go? Check out this quick freelancers’ guide to see what fits your vibe. Continue reading

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Open Call at ROOT Studios for #WORKinPROGRESS

c/o ROOT Studio
c/o ROOT Studio

**August 5, 2015 deadline**

“Because it’s summer and everyone is thinking about vacation,” writes Mickey Boardman, editorial director of Paper Magazine, what better time than the present to guest curate a travel-themed show at ROOT Studios in Williamsburg?

“Almost anyone with a decent eye can take a great travel photo, whether it’s at the beach in Montauk or the ruins of Machu Picchu,” Boardman explains. “So a travel theme seems like something everyone can feel good about.”

Are you a New York City-based photographer? Find out how you can submit photos to ROOT’s open call for the #WORKinPROGRESS show.

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Olek Crochets the Jan Karski Bench at the Polish Consulate

A new suit for Jan Karski c/o Gen. Consulate of the Republic of Poland in NY

Polish crochet artist Olek—known for dressing the iconic Charging Bull of Wall Street and ‘yarn bombing’ everything from the Cube in Astor Place to a locomotive in Łódź to a minotaur in Switzerland—has just completed her latest work, crocheting a ‘new skin’ for the statue of Jan Karski and his bench located in front of the General Consulate of the Republic of Poland in New York (233 Madison Avenue).

“As an artist, I have made it my duty and mission to draw attention to various issues around the world that are crucial to me: humanitarian causes, women’s rights, sexual equality, [and] freedom of expression,” Olek explained in a press release. “My general practice is to highlight everyday objects and give them new and profound meanings by dressing them in colorful, intricate crochet.” Continue reading

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Eight Greenpoint Artists Working Their Magic with Ceramics

"Tufted Containers" c/o Michiko Shimada
“Tufted Containers” c/o Michiko Shimada

Humans have been making pottery objects for at least 27,000 thousand yearslet that sink in for a moment—and the earliest ceramics were either made simply from clay or from a mixture of clay and other materials, like silica. They were then hardened and heated at relatively low temperatures in a fire. Now, flash forward an astounding number of millennia, and we can produce a variety of ceramic products, from bricks to tableware to nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets.

Recently, we tracked down eight artists based right in our neighborhood who have been making some ceramic magic in their studios.

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Polish Haitians, ‘Halka,’ & a Book Launch You Should Check Out Tomorrow, 07/09

Staging 'Halka' for the residents of Cazale, located in the mountains of Haiti c/o labiennale.art.pl
Staging ‘Halka’ for the residents of Cazale, located in the mountains of Haiti c/o labiennale.art.pl

To be honest, I rarely leave Brooklyn unless I have to run an errand. And yet, there’s a book launch event tomorrow for Halka/Haiti 18°48’05″N 72°23’01″W at CANADA Gallery that may just lure me onto the G & J trains.

What is this book with the long name, you ask? What is Halka? And how are Poland and Haiti involved? What makes this so intriguing? Read on for the scoop.

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Alex Cook Paints Two Exquisite Murals For Greenpoint

All images courtesy of Alex Cook
1077 Manhattan Avenue © All images courtesy of Alex Cook

You may have noticed that Greenpoint now has two new murals—at 1043 and 1077 Manhattan Avenue—thanks to Boston native and muralist Alex Cook, who recently painted both out of love for the neighborhood (and crowd-sourced the funding himself to do it). “While I was working on both of them, I got tons of feedback from the neighbors,” Cook said. “It was universally pretty good.”

At 1043, Cook’s mural depicts a surreal, three dimensional space with a young tree and balancing and floating boulders. Down the block at 1077,  a series of heads with broad foreheads and strong jaws seem to be floating in front of the wall, looking passers-by in the eye. “The thing that was compelling to me about these images was the three dimensionality of it and being able to make an image that feels real,” said Cook. “One of the things I love the most as an artist is being able to create a sense of wonder or something mysterious that stops you in your tracks and makes you have a moment of ‘I don’t know everything.'”

Greenpointers recently caught up with Cook to talk about his eighteen year career as a muralist, his creative process, and his love of north Brooklyn.

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