Brooklyn

The Illicit Affair That Brought Greenpoint’s own Mae West to Hollywood

Mae West

In a previous piece I described how Mae West funded her scandalous 1927 play sex through her romance with the rich, handsome, but very dangerous gangster Owney Madden. However, it was the poor, but handsome bag man of the gangster who made West an American icon.

In 1927 the Acting Mayor of New York Joe McKee, scandalized by the drama’s frank sexual portrayals, had West and the rest of the cast arrested. The arrest was a publicity gold mine and sex and West were the words on the lips of all New Yorkers. When the cops jailed Mae the gangster’s connections with Blackwell’s Island warden earned Mae a private cell and silk underwear. She even dined with the warden every night and left after six days being let out early for good behavior. Upon her release she quipped, “It was the first time I ever got anything for good behavior.” Continue reading

Category: Historical Greenpoint | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Patrick Keely, The Prolific Architect of Saint Anthony of Padua Church

Saint Anthony of Padua Church - image via Historic Districts Council
Saint Anthony of Padua Church. Photo via Historic Districts Council

For years I passed the graceful façade of Saint Anthony of Padua church (862 Manhattan Avenue) and admired its beauty, but never really thought much about the man who built it. Recently I researched the life of the amazing man who built this Greenpoint landmark and his story is every bit as amazing as the church he built.

Patrick Keely (1816-1896) was the most prolific church builder in American history, constructing, by some estimates, seven hundred churches stretching from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico and from New England to Iowa. He built St. Anthony’s in 1876. It is like many of his churches built in the neo-gothic style. Keely’s prolific career is all the more shocking when we consider that he never received any formal training as an architect. Continue reading

Category: Historical Greenpoint | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

The Golden Age of the Mature Hipster: 70s-inspired Dreampop From Williamsburg’s Glass Valley

Williamsburg-based singer/songwriter, and dark-humored Brad Cantor released his first solo album a couple weeks ago, under the moniker Glass Valley. The 60s and 70s-inpired dreampop album—which takes a few whispery pages from Velvet Underground and Elliott Smith—brings you on one man’s journey as he closes the door on his 30s and enters his 40s. Brad, a self-proclaimed “aging Brooklyn hipster,” wrote 22 songs after a trip to Joshua Tree, where he had time to reflect on the past decade of his life. When he returned to Brooklyn, the songs quickly poured out in an emotional stream of consciousness, and nine of them made it onto his debut album An Intimate Man. There’s a section in the track Young Hip and Old where he croons, “Everything’s gotten boring and we lost our way. Every party feels so forced, we ran out of things to say. The nights got less glamorous as our friends starting dropping off,” reflecting his stunted coming of age in early 2000s Brooklyn.

I chatted with Brad about how, in the music world it’s a little unusual for anyone to release their first album at age 40. “We don’t value older artists,” Brad says. “We don’t value their creativity. We don’t value their experience.” There’s a general consensus that when you’re younger you “embrace the craziness and rash decision making,” and as you age, you slowly shut down the most creative parts of your brain. “Fear makes people say things like that,” Brad says. So while on this album he may be resigning himself to getting older (on Golden Age: “It’s romantic to think that we’ll conquer the world, But most roads lead to rust belt cities, and gray rivers flow to dead ports, while strip malls decay in neglected suburbs. There was never a golden age, but life has a way of making it seem that way”), the brilliantly-executed record as a whole defies the idea that creativity fades after people reach a certain age. Continue reading

Category: Art/Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Greenpointer Hosts Tours About NYC’s History of Espionage

New York is known as the ultimate city for countless things: fashion, finance, art, Instagrammable food trends – the list is longer than the line at a Supreme drop in Soho. When it comes to espionage, however, the city doesn’t necessarily come to mind the way Moscow or Washington, DC (especially as of late) might. Lucie Levine, a native Manhattanite turned Greenpointer, makes a strong case for her hometown as the ultimate spy city with Archive On Parade, her new tour and event company that reveals NYC’s fascinating history of espionage.

“What makes New York special is that it is the capital of so many industries, with more goods coming into NY harbor by 1900 than anywhere on Earth, and people always moving here from all over the world,” Lucie shares. “For a spy, that means a larger array of possible disguises and aliases, because anybody can be here doing any trade. Nothing seems out of place.”

Archive On Parade launched in February with two distinct walking tours, one in Lower Manhattan following the footsteps of Washington’s Revolutionary War spies and the other in Midtown covering espionage sights during both World Wars. Lucie, a self-proclaimed “history nerd,” does all of the writing, research, and tour guiding. Prior to starting her own business, she gave guided tours on the double decker red buses you see jam-packed with tourists. Continue reading

Category: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Filmmakers: Nitehawk Wants Your Shorts!

Nitehawk Shorts Festival

Filmmakers! Nitehawk needs your shorts by June 25th! And the prizes are pretty big: the Festival Jury Winner receives post-production sound services from Heard City (worth $16k) and post-production coloring from Nice Shoes (worth $20k). Your short must run under 20 minutes long, and should have been completed in 2015-2017.

Full submission details here. Send in your films now!

Continue reading

Category: Art/Music, Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Light + Ladder: Transform Your Palace With These Home Products

Our homes are sanctuaries from the hustle and bustle of city life. Greenpoint is an especially fun and relaxing respite from the daily grind for many of us with Transmitter Park, cozy bars, and zen coffee houses and blissful yoga and meditation spaces. But, what about your own place?

Enter Light + Ladder. This airy design studio based in Greenpoint crafts pieces that will make your home feel both relaxing and cool. Check out these 10 picks to transform your house into an oasis.
Continue reading

Category: Style/Shopping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Greenpoint Open Studios Is Next Weekend! (June 3-4)

If you haven’t been before, Greenpoint Open Studios is an epic showcase of local art. Over the course of one weekend (this year June 3-4), hundreds of local artists open their studio doors to the public for an exciting peek inside their craft. It’s an uncurated, free event that allows visitors to get a glimpse of the process and space where artwork is created while engaging directly with its creators. Brooklyn has a long-standing reputation for being a hotbed of creativity and GOS is going to represent its northernmost tip in true Greenpoint fashion—by keepin’ it real—providing an open platform for showcasing the various expressions of our creative community’s imagination and skills. This year, we have more than 400 artists participating, and an exciting lineup of events: Continue reading

Category: Art/Music, Culture, Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Showdown: BBQ, Takedowns & Cooking In Greenpoint With Jenn de la Vega

Jenn de la Vega, photo by Collin Clark

Baste it, taste it and tweak it again. Showdown is a cookbook about feeding the conversation along with the person.

This week, we sat down with Greenpointer and self-described “meat-head” Jenn de la Vega to talk about how competing (and winning) local competitions sparked Showdown, the cookbook.

GP: Hey Jenn! Tell us about Showdown.

De la Vega: Showdown is a compilation of 100 recipes I’ve entered into competitions. It’s not only about the ones that won. I think the big part of the story is the failure and journey along the way, building a strange cooking career out of competition, creativity and personal challenges.

GP: Did you always want to be a chef?

Jenn breaks out into a big grin.
De la Vega: Actually, I never had intentions of being a chef. Continue reading

Category: Eat & Drink | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments

How We Roll: Summer Bike Events!

Photo: Erik Keithley
A biker busts out some tricks on Freeman Street. Photo: Erik Keithley

This past weekend the Five Boro Bike Tour kicked off the summer cycling season (even though our weather hasn’t fully turned warm yet, dangit). If you love nothing more than pounding the pavement on two wheels when the weather’s at its finest, here’s a roundup of other local bike events happening over the next few months. Take a seat and pop a wheelie through North Brooklyn!
Continue reading

Category: Community, Wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 Comments