Arguably the best piece of literature ever written about North Brooklyn, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” Betty Smith’s classic tale of a girl coming of age in early 20th century Williamsburg, will be celebrated on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. at the Leonard Street Library (81 Devoe Street). The book’s 75th anniversary of publication celebration will include live music, a panel of New York authors and Greenpoint’s own Amy Marino, the talented artist whom publisher Harper Collins chose to design the book cover.
Greenpoint’s industrial past is well known, and its emerging identity as an artist’s hub might seem like a 21st century phenomenon, but back in 1888, Greenpoint was sporting its very own artists’ colony. That year, Mary Fisher, of 71 Java Street, opened her home as the Home Hotel Association, a residence for elderly “Brain Workers.” According to the plaque marking the historic site, Fisher defined “Brain Workers” as men and women “who had labored in literature or art or any other brain profession.” The Home operated on Java Street until 1912, when it moved to two separate locations: one in Mount Vernon, NY, and another in Tenafly, New Jersey.
Mary Fisher was an Englishwoman inspired by the old age pensions which support the elderly in the UK. Social Security wasn’t established in the United States until 1935, so there was no public safety net for older people who had retired, or were out of work. In The Story of the Mary Fisher Home, published 1915, Fisher wrote, “I remembered that in Europe, pensions were often accorded to those who, during their lifetimes, had been of some benefit to the nation, and it seemed to me that in this country the people must do what the government failed to do, and I hoped that in time we might have a national fund for this purpose.”
Fisher appealed to notable New Yorkers for their in kind or financial support, and was well received by Fredrick Barnard, then the President of Columbia University. He introduced her to a variety of prominent and charitable New Yorkers, including Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, but not everybody believed that “brain workers” deserved philanthropic support. In fact, upon hearing the appeal, one woman said, “A home for old authors and artists! My! What a company of cranks! What will you do with them?” Continue reading →
It’s mid-July and hopefully by now you’ve had the chance to get some proper summer lovin’. If not, then Greenpoint’s first ever erotic book fair and sexy afterparty this weekend might be the perfect place for you to get your summertime jollies. MATTE Magazine is presenting the Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair Saturday and Sunday July 15th and 16th, from 12pm-9pm at Point Green Studio (260 Java Street). You can find out more details and RSVP on Facebook.
From the organizers:
Crushed, the first annual Brooklyn Dirty Book Fair, is a platform for independent publishers of erotic and pornographic material and artists working with sex. Curated by former VICE Photo Editor Matthew Leifheit, the fair will feature two small-scale exhibitions, a selection of publications and prints for sale, a program of performances and readings, live nude classical and jazz musicians, smutty film screenings, and an orgy afterparty.
Last night, local historian, teacher, and author Geoffrey Cobb delighted a full house at Shayz Lounge (130 Franklin Street) with a selection of readings from his latest book, The King of Greenpoint. The book is about Peter J. McGuinness, the man for whom McGuinness Boulevard is named.
McGuinness was born on Eagle Street in 1888, and despite having no high school eduction and being a 300-pound lumber handler and blue collar laborer, managed to become one of the most influential politicians Greenpoint has ever seen.
Through pure charisma, lots of street smarts, and an ardent dedication to his everyday, working class constituents, McGuinness was able to get elected as an alderman in 1919, thus beginning a long and rich political career. Continue reading →
Novelist StephanieDanler’s favorite depiction of food in literature comes from the Seamus Heaney poem “Oysters,” which begins:
Our shells clacked on the plates. My tongue was a filling estuary, My palate hung with starlight: As I tasted the salty Pleiades Orion dipped his foot into the water.
Danler mentioned the poem in a panel discussion on food in literature titled “Food and Fiction,” one of the events at this year’s Food Book Fair, which was held at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg on May 1st and 2nd.
Danler, who wrote Sweetbitter, was joined on the panel by Jessica Tom, author of the novel Food Whore, and Helen Ellis, whose collection of humorous short stories American Housewife came out earlier this year. Cathy Erway, host of “Eat Your Words” on the Heritage Radio Network and author of The Food of Taiwan and The Art of Eating In, was the moderator.
The sensory richness of the Seamus Heaney poem that Danler cited—“my palate hung with starlight”—set a fitting tone for the Food Book Fair, which felt like a celebration of all that is beautiful in food writing and publishing.Continue reading →
It’s the summer time–the weather is fine, and you could reach right up and touch the sky–or you could simply reach for a good book and hit the park. Last weekend we canvassed McGolrick Park and McCarren Park, approaching total strangers and interrupting their afternoons to ask them questions about their reading material. Join us now as we discover what the young and the restless and the literary of Greenpoint are burying their noses in this July.
Subject: Mike Book: White Noise by Don DeLillo
So what’s this novel about? I think it’s about how so much of American anxiety is created by pop culture. Wow, that was good. You really cut to the heart of that, a lot of people just recite plot points. [Mike’s Girlfriend: That was a great summary, babe.] Continue reading →
It’s August everyone! That means savor the rest of what’s left of the summer. Watch an outdoor movie. Get out of town. Hit the beach. Take an evening bike ride or how about a canoe paddle? Because before you know it, we’ll be snowed in. Unless this global warming thing turns NY into Florida. Fingers crossed.
WEDNESDAY 8/1 * Princess Bride @ McCarren Park (Bedford & No. 12th St) 6-10pm, Free, Music by Extreme Animals / Soft Circle / PC Worship ♫ Family Band / Jennifer Castle / El Dorado @ Union Pool (484 Union Ave) 9pm, $8 ♫ Big Black Cloud / Girls of Porn / Trabajo, Necking @ Death By Audio (49 S 2nd St) 8pm, $7
♫ Thursday 8/2 – Monday 8/6 – Do The Reggae @ BAM (30 Lafayette Ave) Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican independence at BAMcinématek with this 14-film series dedicated to the country’s unique and widely influential musical tradition, More info
THURSDAY 8/2 ♦ Where We Are @ Picture Farm (338 Wythe Ave) 6-9pm, Opening Exhibition of paintings by Josh Goldberg, RSVP ♫ SUMMERSTARZ 2012 (for kids) @ East River State Park (North 8th St & Kent Ave) 6:30pm, FREE, music from Brooklyn Wind Symphony, screening of Kung Fu Panda 2 • Hearken: A Reading @ Manhattan Inn (632 Manhattan Ave) 7pm, an evening with Karolina Waclawiak, James Yeh, and Tobias Carroll. Three of North Brooklyn’s finest writers. Shooting from the hip, RSVP ♫ Washed Out / Chairlift / Lemonade @ House of Vans (25 Franklin St) 7pm, Free, All ages
FRIDAY 8/3 ♦ Summer Small Works Show & Doggy Wedding @ Greenpoint Gallery (390 McGuinness Blvd) 8pm, More info ♫ Splash / Friends / Janka Nabay / Helado Negro / Uumans @ 285 Kent, 8pm, $10, all ages
SATURDAY 8/4 ♫ Arbitration Rock Festival @ Onderdonk House (1820 Flushing Ave., Ridgewood) Noon-10pm, $10, rain or shine, Live Music: Winter Ring / Activists/Dictators / Uzuhi / Springs / Gunfight! / Katie Mullins / Bad Credit No Credit / Backwords / Not Blood Paint / PassKontrol, RSVP ♫ Warm Up w/ Jamie XX / Pearson Sound / Lemonade / Sinjin Hawke / Zora Jones @ PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, LIC) 2pm, $15 * Open Canoe Paddle @ NBBC Boat Yard (49 Ash St) 5:30-8:45pm, $5 insurance fee, an open canoe paddle along the North Brooklyn shoreline to Bushwick Inlet, More info ♫ Miniature Tigers / French Horn Rebellion / Joywave @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. 6th St.) 8pm, $13
SUNDAY 8/5 * Tour “The Insalubrious Valley” with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman @ (Meet: the corner of Grand St and Morgan Ave) 11am-2pm, $20, the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the industrial revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. Visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway, BUY TIX ♫ DIY Jam – BBALL Tournament w/ CSC Funk Band @ Cooper Park, noon, FREE, BBQ ♫ Rock-a-way Summer: Celebrating 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence @ Beach 96th St (Rockaway, Queens) noon-9pm, FREE, music, food, water balloon fight! ♫ Mad Decent Block Party w/ Major Lazer / Erol Aikan / Bonde Do Role / Lunice / Riff Raff / Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire & more @ Williamsburg Park (50 Kent Ave) 2pm, FREE ♦ Comics Jam with Michel Levesque @ Word (126 Franklin St) 3pm, Attendees will create a collaborative comic together, led by Levesque, and will discuss storytelling and the art form, RSVP jenn (at) word brooklyn.com
MONDAY 8/6 • Words by the Water @ East River State Park (Kent @ No. 9th St) 7pm, outdoor reading series featuring Soho Crime authors James Benn, Henry Chang, and Timothy Hallinan, More info
TUESDAY 8/7 • 94th Precinct’s National Night Out @ 94th Precinct (Lorimer St betw. Calyer St and Meserole Ave) 6-9pm, Free food, police displays, music, fun for all!
* Greenpointers’ Pick ♫ Music ♥ Pheremones Likely ♦ Art Event