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Legendary Writer Henry Miller Recalls Williamsburg of The 1890s

The NY Times 1971

Henry Miller is not only one of the greatest writers Brooklyn ever produced, but also a chronicler of the now vanished North Brooklyn before the building of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903. Honestly, there are times when I do not like Miller’s writing: it can be macho, self-obsessed, vain and highly egotistical, but when writing about old Williamsburg he approaches literary genius.

Henry Miller (via Carl Van Vechten collection at the Library of Congress)

In 1971, the New York Times (PDF) invited the then 80-year-old Miller back to Williamsburg to recollect on his childhood. Though he had been away for five decades, Miller had a crystal clear memory, recalling many fascinating stories from that vanished world of his childhood. Miller was born of German-American parents in Manhattan in 1891, but moved to the area as an infant, living at 662 Driggs Avenue, a house that still stands.

The Henry Miller House (662 Driggs Avenue vias Google Maps)

His fondest memories, which occupy much of his writing, concern his boyhood friends from the neighborhood. He said, “As I walked the streets the names of my boyhood companions, or better said, my idols, came back to me: Johnny Paul, Eddie Carney, Lester Reardon, Jimmy Short, Tim Buckley; Matt Owen, Gus Fowler, and last but not least, my first real chum, Stanley Borowski. With Stanley I maintained a friendship until I left for France in 1930. Like myself, he wanted to be a writer; I doubt that he ever made it however.”

Reading Miller’s writings, the neighborhood comes into focus through the eyes of a mischievous young lad who would later be censored by the United States Post Office for his shocking prose. Miller recalled first being rebuked for his language at the police station at Bedford Avenue where he was dragged by the arm one afternoon by a babysitter at the age of 6 or 7 years old; the crime he had committed was to use dirty language in her presence – the first of many times Miller would shock people with his language.

Miller’s writing later shocked another, more prominent Williamsburger, Presbyterian Minister John D. Wells. Today John D. Wells Middle School on S. 3rd St. is named for the preacher Miller knew as a child. He recalled, “Later, on some crazy impulse, I sent this rather pompous and aristocratic minister one of my first pieces of writing from Paris. He replied that he had thrown it in the garbage can; he wondered, he said, how one of ‘his boys’ could ever have conceived such filth.” At 7 years of age, Wells had presented Miller with a handsome little New Testament, his name inscribed in gold letters, for reciting by heart the 23rd Psalm. Continue reading

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Norman Closing on Sunday (3/3) for Good Inside of A/D/O

(Courtesy of Norman)

Seasonal Scandinavian restaurant, bakery and bar, Norman (29 Norman Ave.) will close after brunch on March 3, following two years of operation inside of the A/D/O co-working and event space. “Our lease ran up with A/D/O, and we had signed a two-year lease; they will be pursuing a new restaurant partnership,” Jenny Pura, director of marketing, said.

As far as opening a new Norman location in Greenpoint, she said there’s no announcement to share: “I think it’s probably a little too early to definitively say that, but we are doing our best to move our Norman team to our other properties in New York so that nobody’s without a job,” Pura said.

MeyersUSA, the restaurant group that owns Norman also operates Great Northern Food Hall at Grand Central Station and Agern, a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant also in Grand Central.

The announcement of Norman’s closure came through a note posted on the Norman Instagram account:

On March 3rd, Norman’s partnership with A/D/O will come to end after two years in Greenpoint. Built as a space for creative exchange, the collaboration between Norman and A/D/O was always intended as a rotating space for culinary innovation and emerging talent. As our partnership comes to a close, we are honored to have served as the incubator’s inaugural restaurant partner, feeding some of New York City’s most groundbreaking entrepreneurs.
– Team Norman

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Sakura Market Launches at Pony Boy

(Image courtesy of Micahel Stember)

Sakura Market is a new dining experience featuring “supreme sushi grade seafood with deep Unami flavors using healthy principles” that is launching at Pony Boy (632 Manhattan Ave.) in March.

 

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Greenpoint’s Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki Follows Local Boxing Tradition

Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki (courtesy of Adam Kownacki)

Recently, heavyweight boxer Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki has generated a lot of local excitement. The Polish-born, but Greenpoint bred, Konwacki is 19- 0 in his professional career. A huge contingent of locals showed up to support Kownacki in his last match in the Barclay’s Center. Kownacki continued to climb up the heavyweight rankings by earning a second-round TKO victory over former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs). The talented Kownacki is only the latest in a long tradition of excellent North Brooklyn boxers. The first local champion boxer dates to the era after the Civil War when prizefighting was still illegal.

Local boxing champ and Medal of Honor winner Sam Collyer (courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Williamsburg Civil War hero and bare-knuckle fighter Sam Collyer won both the Medal of Honor and a lightweight world championship in the days after the War Between the States, but Collyer was a puncher and not a boxer. He won a few title defenses in the 1860s, but was later embarrassed in the ring by perhaps the greatest local fighter, McAuliffe in an 1888 match staged in a local theater, in which McAuliffe humiliated the former champ with his technical boxing prowess. Continue reading

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Coming Soon to Rough Trade: Dutch Quartet Mozes and the Firstborn

Mozes and the Firstborn
Dutch quartet Mozes and the Firstborn, who released their new album Dadcore last Friday, and will be performing February 15 at 9 PM at Williamsburg’s Rough Trade (64 North 9th Street). Tickets are $12 (or $14 at the door) and can be purchased here.
Mozes and the Firstborn spent the past year writing new material, recording in the US and Netherlands with producer/mixer Chris Coady (Beach House, Slowdive) and Roland Cosio (together PANGEA, Fuzz), hitting SXSW and touring the states supporting Bodega.  The result? Dadcore embraces the feel of a mixtape, as Mozes blend their favorite styles and genres into an intriguing collection of songs, including prior 2018 single, “Sad Supermarket Song,” which already has 400k plays on Spotify.
Playing a potent mix of sleazy grunge and power pop perfection, Mozes and the Firstborn hail from Eindhoven, Netherlands. The band started out in 2010 with Melle Dielesen on vocals, guitar, Corto Blommaert on bass and Raven Aartsen on drums, with Ernst-Jan van Doorn joining prior to their 2011 debut EP I Got Skills.  California label Burger Records signed the band to release their self-titled debut full-length in 2014, followed by Great Pile Of Nothing in 2016, touring internationally in support, with like-minded artists such as The Growlers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Together Pangea, while garnering features on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Pitchfork, Noisey, SPIN, CLASH, amongst others.
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Brooklyn Community Board 1 Meets Tuesday (1/8) For Monthly Public Hearing

Brooklyn Community Board 1’s monthly board meeting and public hearing will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., at the Swinging 60s Senior Center (211 Ainslie St.).

Heres the meeting agenda, which is also available in PDF format:

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Attempted Rape in South Williamsburg on New Year’s Morning

The suspect that the NYPD are seeking in regards to the attempted sexual assault.

An attempted rape occurred in a South Williamsburg apartment building at S. 2nd and Havemeyer streets on Tuesday (New Year’s Day) around 5:30 a.m., and a ‘person-of-interest’ is now in police custody”ABC7NY reports.

The suspect is described by police as a male in his mid-20s, 5’8″ tall will facial hair. The suspect approached the 26-year-old victim in the first-floor of the apartment building, punched the back of her head and attempted to sexually assault her.

A video of the suspect was posted by Gothamist. 

UPDATE: The suspect turned himself into the 90th Precint on this morning around 8 a.m. and is being questioned, the NY Daily News reports.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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McGuinness Boulevard Gains Specialty Coffee Roaster and Cafe

Spare Moments Coffee Roasters

The industrial area of McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint near the Pulaski Bridge has limited food and drink options, so when a new specialty coffee bean wholesaler named Spare Moment (368 McGuinness Blvd.) began roasting beans in 2017, they noticed a demand after people kept dropping in and asking for a caffeine fix. “We had some of our neighbors walking by asking if they can buy coffee, so we were like why not open it up,” said general manager Patrick Yim.

“We had the bar already made because it was a training facility for our wholesale accounts, so everything was here, we just had to open,” he said.  The 2,000 square foot roasting facility ended up being cut in half to create a cafe space for customers to order espresso drinks.  Continue reading

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Delicious Eats for Under $10 in Greenpoint

Dining out doesn’t always mean shelling out exuberant amounts of money in Greenpoint. While the many newer high-end food destinations get most of the headlines and accolades, the dependable and affordable food options in Greenpoint deserve a shout out from time to time. We asked Greenpointers readers earlier this week what their favorite food options are for under $10, here are the recommendations:

Acapulco (1116 Manhattan Ave.): This Mexican restaurant on the far northern end of Manhattan Avenue was by far the most recommended by Greenpointers readers. The burritos and breakfast options at Acapulco are local picks for cheap eats: Chicken, chorizo and steak burritos are $7.25 (veggie burrito is $6) and breakfast omelet platters cost $5.50. Hours: Mon. – Fri. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sat. and Sun. 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

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Peter Pan (727 Manhattan Ave.) turns out classic donuts and the line is often out the door on weekends, but many people opt for breakfast sandwiches, specifically bacon egg and cheese on either a bagel or roll, which costs under $5. Hours:  Mon. – Fri. 4:30 a.m. – 8pm; Sat. 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sun. 5:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Bacon egg and cheese on a poppy seed roll at Peter Pan (Robert V. yelp)

Frankel’s Delicatessen (631 Manhattan Ave.) is a throwback Jewish-style deli that is packed with the brunch crowd on weekend mornings.  The pastrami, egg and cheese sandwich is a Greenpoint favorite and costs $9. Hours: Mon. to Sun. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Egg, cheese and pastrami on a roll at Frankel’s ( Ron C., Yelp)

Karczma (136 Greenpoint Ave.) is a bonified Polish food destination, and the menu offers delicious dishes at relatively affordable price points ( a lunch plate with stuffed cabbage, pierogis and soup costs $11.50). Greenpointers readers recommend the white borscht served in a bread bowl that is accompanied by mashed potatoes garnished with bacon for $5.75. Hours: Mon. to Thur. from 12 p.m to 10:30 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sun. 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

White borscht served in a bread bowl at Karczma (Beril E., Yelp)

God Bless Deli (818 Manhattan Ave.) is a bodega with a strong local following that has Middle Eastern and American food options 24 hours/day. Everything on the bodega menu is under $10, but readers cite the falafel sandwich ($3.49) and chicken over rice ($5) as their favorites. Continue reading

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How You Can Learn About Homeowner’s Rights (12/10)

North Brooklyn neighborhoods have experienced redevelopment over the past decade with demolitions and new construction a common sight. Living directly next to an active construction site can also be a headache, to say the least, and when serious issues arise that may require legal action homeowners can be flummoxed when considering which steps to take.

To help educate the public, a North Brooklyn homeowners’ rights meeting is taking place on Monday, Dec. 10, at the Polish Slavic Center (176 Java St.) at 6 p.m., where reps from the Dept. of Buildings and the offices of Council Member Stephen Levin, State Senator Brian Kavanaugh and Assemblyman Joe Lentol will be in attendance to answer questions. Event organizer and Greenpoint resident Victoria Cambranes worked to put the meeting together over the past few months:

“The idea occurred to me back in October because I had been speaking to quite a few of my neighbors and I’ve been hearing stories for quite some time now about people experiencing cracks, and issues with foundations and getting into litigation with developers, and it seemed like people were only discussing these things once it was too late.

It also occurred to me that many of my neighbors, because they’re older, a lot of them purchased houses in Greenpoint in the 60s and 70s and they don’t really have the wherewithal to go and do their own research and educate themselves, that they were missing a lot of information that could help them prevent a lot of these issues.

I’ve been given a bit of an education just in the last couple of months with DOB procedures, and insurance policies, creating party wall agreements and essentially what your rights are as an adjacent homeowner. And this was all new to me so I’m sure it would be new to a lot more people…I also got involved with a homeowners group down in Crown Heights because I was alerted that State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright were working on legislation to help protect homeowners, so I’ve been in contact with them and hoping that they could come to educate us in North Brooklyn a little bit about what their work has been and what kind of legislation they hope to pass.”

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