The indoor biophilic plant paradise next to Transmitter Park will hold a sidewalk sale this weekend with a variety of vegetables and herbs to mark the (almost) start of summer.
Greenery Unlimited (91 West St.) celebrated its grand opening in February 2019 awing plant lovers with an indoor irrigation mist machine and a gigantic living wall, not to mention an impressive array of plants available for purchase.
Following a brief hiatus of the brick-and-mortar store while focusing on home delivery during the coronavirus pause, Greenery Unlimited returns Saturday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. with a sidewalk sale. Continue reading →
In a time where public health and artists’ careers are at risk, Masks In The Wild boldly and resourcefully looks to uplift each of these vital entities. A grassroots project that provides aid to artists who want to create and distribute free masks to loved ones, healthcare workers, and those in need, Masks In The Wild is timely and, per its permit, an “essential business” aimed at removing the fear and stigma surrounding our new normal of mandatory mask-wearing in public. Through its mission, artists are commissioned to create, and the public benefits via the sharing of secure and free resources.
Launched by Wallplay and 25 Kent, Masks In The Wild symbolizes the innovative and community-centered ethos of Brooklyn creatives. All New York City artists are welcome to apply for a commission online, and to learn more, here is our Thursday Spotlight interview with Wallplay founder Laura O’Reilly.
Greenpointers: Your main work is with Wallplay, which based in the neighborhood. Can you explain the scope of your work there for those who may be unfamiliar? How has the company evolved in your time of leadership?
Laura O’Reilly: Wallplay is a hyperlocal platform that programs and operates vacant spaces with commercial pop-ups and art exhibitions until landlords secure permanent tenants. I founded the company with my best friend and cousin Alessandra DeBenedetti in 2013. Currently, Wallplay operates 14 spaces throughout New York City. In the summer of 2019 we partnered with 25 Kent to transform their ground floor spaces into “community hubs.” We strive for our spaces to be powered by the local community by facilitating the ability for locals to apply to program the spaces that inhabit their neighborhood.
Talk to us about the genesis of Masks in the Wild — are you an artist yourself and/or did you want to utilize our creative community to its fullest potential?
I grew up in Manhattan in the performing arts community and the thing that has always stood out to me is the electricity in the street. You may see a man naked in a trench coat one minute and the most beautiful sax performance behind a piece of street art the next. Masks In The Wild was born out of a desire to help artists connect in a safe and essential way while bringing that same magic to the street that makes New York, New York. Instead of sterile medical masks artists can help create a new emotional response and bring a smile to New Yorkers who have been isolating. It’s been a traumatic experience for many. Art heals and we need to connect to art now more than ever.
The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in New York may be on the decline for now, but the face mask is here to stay to help stop the spread of the highly transmissible virus. Many local businesses and independent creators in Greenpoint and Williamsburg are now designing and selling their own masks. Consider buying local and shopping from any of these sellers while keeping your neighborhood safe:
Line and Label (568 Manhattan Ave.) is offering handmade mask in sizes, kids, regular and large. Order online to have a product shipped to you or opt for contactless pick up at their store.
Small Home (100 Freeman St.) – Small Home is a independent artist-run shop that has recently started crafting their own face masks in large and small sizes in a bandit-style for layer comfort, including pockets for filters; direct message on Instagram to order.
Settling into our third (!) month of the pandemic, many of us have moved from stockpiling the essentials to enjoying stress-reducing libations. Enter Greenpoint Cidery, the beverage whose effervescence is only matched by its diligent and ever-mobile owner, Nika Carlson. While a neighborhood staple for five years, Greenpoint Cidery is used to making transactions on the business-to-business level; now, the distribution is more personal as Nika shuttles between upstate farm and nearby neighbors to deliver goodies and make connections. As one of the beloved small businesses we’re highlighting in our Thursday Spotlight series, Greenpoint Cidery is both enormously affected by COVID-19 and also finding opportunity in a revamped business model. Here, Nika discusses the many hats she wears at Greenpoint Cidery and the upsides of operating an independent business amidst a pandemic.
Greenpointers: How have sales been doing during this time? And, on a similar note, is cider a drink that’s ever out of season?
Nika Carlson: Sales are good! I started doing home deliveries the first weekend the state allowed it just by posting on Instagram and taking orders via text and DM. That first weekend was mostly friends and acquaintances, but word has spread and at this point I even have regulars. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as our strange new world does.
As for the seasonality of cider, I’d say it’s always a great option. Cider can be a lot of different things, but I make it in traditional styles that are comparable to natural wine: low intervention, wild yeasts, and a long-aging process. It’s great for pairing with food, but also just for crushing on a hot day. The lower alcohol content means you can drink it without worrying about getting real tipsy, and because everything I make is totally dry, there’s less hangover there, too.
Your website states that you got your start in the Brooklyn bar scene. Can you talk about that time and how it acted as the springboard for Greenpoint Cidery?
I used to run a bar in East Williamsburg called The Drink, and we were always excited to sell anything unique. When we opened, all I knew of cider was sweet stuff like Woodchuck, but someone introduced me to Spanish cider, and my mind was blown. It was sour and funky and regional and just so cool. Cider was also experiencing a renaissance in New York around then, and I caught the bug. There’s a lot of really fascinating, beautiful history in apples and in cider in America. Now I’m a farmer-ish and cider maker (I’m also head bartender at Broken Land, at least in normal times, and wow I miss my regulars so much!)
No three words will get me jazzed more than Greenpoint, Hudson, and apples. Naturally, we all love Greenpoint, but Hudson may be one of my favorite towns in New York. What’s it like to shuttle back and forth between these two little havens for your work?
I feel super lucky to have the best of both worlds: nature and also the city I love so much. The cidery and orchard are just outside Hudson proper on about 80 acres some friends own. There are fields, forest, a creek to swim in, other dogs for my pup to play with, and friends to lend a hand when I need them. A dream that keeps me sane. I’m usually too busy working when I’m upstate to enjoy Hudson itself, but it’s a lovely town I’m grateful to have access to.
How long has your business been around, and how has it evolved? What are the challenges and rewards?
About 5 years? It’s changed a lot. I started the business with a partner, on a different property, with the goal of opening a cider-focused bar ASAP. Now I run it solo, and last year I moved everything onto this new space where I can focus on honing my craft, growing sustainably, and keeping an eye to opening a tasting room when the time is right. I do everything: build the fence, maintain the trees, make the cider, design the labels, clean the kegs, and, now, make home deliveries. It’s a lot for one person, but I love to work hard and to create something that brings people joy. It’s also been a wonderful lesson in patience and flexibility. Growing apples and making cider is a slow process, and Mother Nature doesn’t f*ck around, you know? You have to pay attention, and roll with the punches.
Do you distribute to bars and grocery stores, or just operate on a customer delivery basis? And what’s the best way that we can support you?
I do! But obviously bar and restaurant orders have died off. The state just started allowing home delivery in response to COVID-19, so that part is very new to me.
You can support me by placing an order! My delivery zone is literally the whole city, minus Staten Island. If you like it, tell your friends (or even order a few bottles to be sent to them). I’m working on adding shipping to the rest of the state, and you can also follow me on Instagram and/or subscribe to my mailing list. If you have a shop and are interested in carrying my cider, please reach out. I’m still taking wholesale orders and can do socially distanced tastings.
We’re so proud to highlight creatives in this series, and that absolutely includes culinary ones, especially those who represent our vital small businesses. As the leader of a small business, what’s something you’d like to share with our community at this time, or wish our community knew about managing a small business?
I know it’s a treat for customers to get home delivery, but it’s also a treat for me to meet everyone face-to-face. My cider work is usually very solo. All the positive feedback has really helped buoy me as I pivot and pivot again, planning for the short and long term, whatever that may look like. I’m not naturally inclined toward salesmanship, but I’m working on letting people in more on my process. People seem to like that, and they want to help, and that feels really good. So thank you!
The annual Italian-American celebration has taken place for the past 117 years in Williamsburg, and on Sunday, the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel announced the cancellation in a letter posted on social media. “We await word from the City on what we may plan in the future and will revisit our options closer to the Fall,” pastor Jamie Gigantiello wrote. This marks the first OLMC Feast cancellation since WWII.
A shortage of volunteer lifters threatened the main event in 2019, but a volunteer drive successfully recruited enough people to carry the four-ton giglio.
“The cancellation of this year’s feast was a painful decision for our committee and it is certainly painful for those of our community who look forward to this tradition each year,” John Perrone, a rep for OLMC Feast said. “From a financial perspective, the feast is the main revenue source of our Parish as well. Our hope is to potentially have the ability to celebrate, on some scale, later in the year.”
The Greenpoint-based vintage and children’s shop Flying Squirrel (87 Oak St.) is in the process of vacating their storefront of seven years after failing to reach an agreement with their landlord last month.
Earlier this week, owner Kate Schmitz posted a note social media explaining that her lawyer advised to move out of the storefront at the end of April:
Hello friends. I am so sad to have to say this to you, but, I will have to close flying squirrel. You could say it’s due to the virus, or you could just blame certain landlords. My rent was always ridiculous, and my landlord’s only offer once businesses were closed was that I could defer payments until December. I was lucky enough to get an amazing pro bono law firm to help me with negotiations, but even with their help, and even with josh Gutman’s personal phone #, I got nowhere. As of yesterday, my lawyer has advised me to vacate by the end of April. I am already looking for a new space – please let me know if you know of one. And please let me know if you or anyone you know has consignment you would like to pick up. I am donating the cleats to a great organization and the clothing to St Marys in Bed-Stuy. If you have any other suggestions for donations, please let me know. All those fabulous secondhand books, for example, need a home. This is so sudden. I still feel like somehow I can turn it around – I may be wrong about that, but I do know fs and I will adapt to these changing times as all of you will too. Humans are phenomenally adaptable creatures, and I think our neighborhood is going to bounce right back. I look forward to seeing you out there ASAP. Meanwhile, please stay safe and well. I send my love to you and your families. Stay in touch…and email me ASAP to arrange pick up of your consignment items! I will be saving as much as I can. It all depends on what I can do in the next 5 days. If you can stop by for curbside pick-up that would be by far the best solution. I’m just so sorry for this short notice (and this crazy late night post).
On Friday afternoon, Schmitz began setting out many items in front of the store that are free or for donation via Venmo: Continue reading →
As a holdout on what has become one of Bedford Avenue’s most inundated corporate retail stretches, Spoonbill & Sugartown recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Williamsburg. The store has served as a community space for readings and as an outlet for second-hand literature, as well as contemporary books of various genres including art and design.
The GoFundMe campaign launched on April 13th and has a goal of $150,000 to save the brick-and-mortar location; Spoonbill’s website remains open for orders.
Difficult times have often been a catalyst for resilient arts. As such, it will be interesting to see what is created after this enormously trying period. But already, Brooklynites are coming together to creatively express what we have lost: they’re making stages out of their balconies and serenading the community, snapping portraits of those in quarantine, and — in this Thursday Spotlight’s case — paying tribute to a lost neighbor.
Here, actor and illustrator Tony Wolf discusses his cartoon in The New York Times that was published earlier this month and pays homage to the life of Carmine Notaro, the late owner of the beloved Carmine’s Original Pizza. Learn about his process and reflections in our interview!
Greenpointers: To rewind a bit, what was your relationship to Carmine(‘s), as a pizzeria and/or neighborhood figure?
Tony Wolf: Shortly after I moved to Greenpoint in1996, I discovered Carmine’s Pizza, since my apartment was just a block and a half from it. I instantly loved the pizza and the vibe of the place. Over time, Carmine came to recognize me as a familiar face, as I’m sure he did with so many people and customers. He had a quietly reassuring, welcoming presence, and I noticed how many hours a day he worked. We talked occasionally and became friendly. I personally saw him extend such kindness to the homeless of the area, and witnessed the manner in which he treated all his customers.
Carmine sadly passed on April 2; less than a week later, your full page cartoon appeared in The New York Times. Did you immediately know, following the news of Carmine’s passing, that you wanted to create something? Or had you already had some kind of tribute in the works?
I had wanted to do a piece about Carmine as far back as 2014, when I started “Greenpoint of View.” As shown in the comic, I did try to interview him in 2015. Over time, I worked up a pitch, and was thrilled when the Times greenlighted it! The comic was completed in December 2019, and the editors needed to hold it for a few months, since they plan the Food section far in advance. Once Carmine passed away, we quickly made text edits to the last panel.
On Facebook you credit Thomas J. Gryphon with help with the execution. You artistically spearheaded this process, but can you discuss Thomas’ contributions?
Thomas aka Tom has been working with me for about five years now. He also invested me early on, by printing up my first physical minicomics. With my stories, I research, write, illustrate, and hand-letter everything, and Tom does all the coloring, plus lettering corrections via Photoshop, and other formatting work to get it ready for print or online presentation. With the colors, he’ll do a first draft, then I’ll give him notes on that draft, and we’ll trade drafts back and forth until I feel it’s done. If I’m the film writer/director, he’s the cinematographer and lighting designer I collaborate with. Tom also found a way to fit the entire comic on a broadsheet New York Times page, something I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to figure out!
That picture of Carmine napping is so jovial; it really captures the tireless work of our community leaders, no?
Ha, yes! It was really fun to discover that many people had taken affectionate pictures of Carmine napping over the years, and I enjoyed going through instagram to find the ones I wanted to draw in that “napping montage” sequence. Long ago in the entertainment world, the phrase “The hardest working man in show business!” would be used to introduce James Brown and Elton John, and I often thought to myself in the early 2000s, “This guy Carmine must surely be the hardest working man in the pizza business!”, especially given his age.
Your work is such a lovely testament to our small and local businesses during this time. Do you have any words you’d like to share with our neighborhood locales during this difficult moment?
Thanks, that’s very kind of you. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for restaurant owners and workers during this extremely difficult time…and was saddened to hear about places like Cherry Point on Manhattan Avenue having to go out of business. So many wonderful restaurants have gone under; it’s heartbreaking. And we are all, around the nation, extremely grateful for the local businesses and food places that are doing delivery and working so hard to provide those services. The importance of essential workers at this time cannot be overstated.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m just really thankful that I got to tell the story of Carmine Notaro to the world. I’ve always loved the work that Greenpointers does in covering the community, and thanks for taking the time to speak with me. And Carmine’s two sons, Patrick and John, were really helpful with my research, and they gave me some extra information about their dad’s life story.
Depending on how you’re looking at it, the entertainment industry is either in a crisis or renaissance. With no concerts, theaters, or venues to patron, we’re all seeing art that’s meant to be consumed IRL now translated to the digital sphere. But some stories are being created for a medium more native to staying home and listening.
Enter the podcast NEXT STOP, written and created by the neighborhood’s Eric Silver. A product of Greenpoint’s independent podcast collective Multitude, NEXT STOP is a serial podcast that is uniquely not a news program or an interview vehicle but instead a refreshing and — during this COVID period — necessary sit-com-set-to-audio-experiencing. Original episodes about trying to move forward as your friends move on will be released weekly, and the “pilot,” if such a thing exists in podcast land, is now streaming. As this week’s Thursday Spotlight, Eric shares the inspiration behind the series and the neighborhood bakeries, barbers, and buses he owes a thanks to for its creation. Follow the podcast on Instagram here, and enjoy the series!
Greenpointers: Talk a little about the genesis for this episodic podcast; I imagine it started pre-COVID?
I wrote the first drafts of NEXT STOP more than a year ago, February/March 2019. My roommate had just moved to LA and I had recently left my office job to be a podcaster with Multitude full-time. I poured my uncertainty with my job and life into these scripts and made them as funny as I could. Now that it’s coming out, jokes and affirmations of uncertainty are even more valuable.
It is produced through Multitude Productions — as in, is that your day job and did you create it as content for the company?
Yes! Multitude is a podcast collective and studio. The business has two arms: 1) a podcast collective where a group of podcasters lean on each other for ad sales, show promotion, and other help (we have a great Slack), and 2) the production side where we consult, make shows for clients, and create new original content like NEXT STOP. I’m the Head of Creative, where I shape the structuring, scripting, writing, and live show content.
Let’s talk about the world-building: why these themes, and who did you call on to collaborate with?
Audio fiction is a growing and vibrant genre in podcasting, but there is a looming hole of slice-of-life sitcoms — set in a modern and familiar world with lots of jokes, gags, and exaggerated hijinks.
Luckily, I have collaborators that I work with every day to bring this comedic world to life: Brandon Grugle, our director and post-production guy; Julia Schfini, our assistant director and casting director; and Amanda McLoughlin, Multitude’s CEO and the exec producer.
Do you live in Brooklyn/the nabe, and how has the artistic community treated you? What have your goals been in the city?
I live in North Greenpoint and our studio is right next to Transmitter Park! None of us worked for public radio or received formal training, and we found each other at NYU or while working in the city. When we can come together again, we want our studio to be a place for podcasting to grow and thrive. We hope to do more events and panels and open the studio up for all to record.
What do you hope for the future of NEXT STOP?
The ability to do a second season! We’re a small business funding this ourselves, and it’s a priority to pay artists what they’re worth, so we need to see how this season does before another one is greenlit.
We’re also releasing a massive resource about how to make a fiction podcast for free with Patreon, so I really hope it will be helpful for people diving into the genre.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The first episode of NEXT STOP is out now and continues weekly for 10 episodes! Shoutout Ovenly! Shoutout to Greenpoint Brewery for putting NYC breweries on their back! Shoutout Baddies, the best barber in Greenpoint and I wish I could have gotten my haircut earlier! Shoutout the B43 bus!