Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Nov. 12: Opening Reception for NYC Trash! Past, Present, & Future (City Reliquary)
The exhibition includes the work of:
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, whose projects Touch Sanitation Performance, The Social Mirror, and Landing highlight overlooked social aspects of trash disposal
Larry Racioppo, NYC 2016 Best Unknown Photographer, whose work focuses on the urban landscape
Hack:Trash:NYC, aims for zero waste sent to NYC landfills by 2030. Their 2017 hackathon invites creative solutions to waste management.
Industrial/Organic, dedicated to converting organic food waste to high-value resources
Lower East Side Ecology Center, a nonprofit that collects electronic waste and separates it for reuse and recycling
Materials for the Arts, a nonprofit that collects and distributes art supplies and materials to nonprofit organizations with arts programming and public schools
RISE Products, a tech company that turns spent grains from breweries into flour

“A gift and a strong social conscience”: Ella Murtha on her mother’s astoundingly truthful photography
Truthful, emotive and highly personal, the work of photographer Tish Murtha captured the social landscape of 1980s northern England with astounding honesty. (It's Nice That)

A Life of Service Ends in Puerto Rico, but Lives On in the Bronx (NY Times)
“Some good has to come of this,” Mr. Conzo said. “She died on the island she loved so much. The island that she fought for, along with her community in the Bronx. She gave her life for her community.” (NY Times)

‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump (The Nation)
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.

Me, Too: Assault and Battery, Attempted Rape (Susan Strasser)
Supposedly this scenario — Little Red overtaken in the forest by the big bad wolf/man — is every woman’s nightmare. It had never been mine. If I thought about it at all, I thought I was formidable in my walk, my carriage, my body language; while men might harass me or expose themselves (and strangers did both, on my solo rambles), I never really feared that one would try to rape me. In my first four decades, none did. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Donations Still Welcomed at Danny's Rim & Tire Shop

I went down to drop off some donations at Danny's Rim & Tire Shop.  Here are some new notices, with info about what you can drop off.  You can also ask for addresses in Puerto Rico to which you can mail packages yourself.  You should be able to drop off supplies for the next couple of weeks.  The number to call if you have questions: 718 965 4831. Danny's is at 482 Fourth Avenue, between 11th & 12th.


An analyst would have a field-day with my trash obsession.

Before I was born my father had a run-in with the dustmen, whose cart smashed into the front wall of our garden one morning, as it made its way up the narrow, rutted track to our house.  After this accident, I'm told, my father ditched the council service and started his own: a rubbish pit he dug at the bottom of the orchard.  In those days, with less packaging, frugal ways, a compost heap, and lots of home-grown food, I suppose our dustbins filled slowly, but in retrospect, it seems like a nutty venture to go off-grid.  As a child I thought it was perfectly normal.

I remember the rubbish pit, not that far from the vegetable garden. I remember my father there, active with a spade. There was a lot of digging going on down there, what with the pit and the carrots and potatoes and onions.  It's somewhere in my mind that there could have been a second or a third pit dug as the rubbish accumulated.

I hadn't thought about the rubbish pit in years.  What an all-too obvious metaphor. If I still lived there I could undertake a little home-style excavation, see what still remained under the dirt, but the house, a continent away, was sold half a century ago.  I was born in that house, and deep in my heart, I'm as close to it as ever.

Here in Greenpoint, three carting companies observe the Sabbath.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Union Demands Jobs Restored and Fair Wages at Luxury Rental on 11th

The Rat was Back at 237 11th yesterday, during Open House hours for would-be renters at the new Adam/America/Slate apartment building on Fourth Avenue.  Members of 32BJ Services Employees International Union CLC were there to protest the recent dismissal of Luis Torres and Ivan Fajardo, who had worked as doormen at the building.  According to the union, Torres and Fajardo were fired shortly after delivering a petition demanding the right to state-mandated wages, and benefits:

Two years ago, the rats were present at another union protest:

The inflatable rats are out at 470 Fourth Avenue, the Adam America development at Fourth & 11th, where union members are campaigning on behalf of laborers at the site in their drive to unionize.  Laborers report low wages, unfair dismissals, harassment & unsafe working conditions while working for the Red Hook Construction Group, builders at the site.  Since laborers at 470 threatened to unionize, RHCG has allegedly raised their pay, and offered a 401K plan, & sick days, but workers still feel vulnerable & poorly represented without union support.  They will be voting to join LiUNA Local 79 (Construction & General Building Laborers) tomorrow, at the RHCG yard at 121 12th Street, from 4:30 am to 6:30 am, and from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. 
(One More Folded Sunset)

237 11th is winsomely described on the building's website as "tucked away in the cool backwinds of Prospect Park."  A Streeteasy/Citi Limits listing blurb describes it as a place where "culture and accessibility converge."  The rents for units currently available on Streeteasy range from $2,246 for a studio to $6,646 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Adam America/Slate are active developers on Fourth, and have also bought smaller multi-family buildings in the neighborhood.  The construction at a nearby rental building at 535 Fourth has been stalled by building violations, which necessitated the removal of several floors.  Last year debris fell from the building during heavy winds.  There is still a partial SWO in place at 535.  Directly south of this site, at 541, the developers assembled a parcel of eight contiguous three-story three-family apartment buildings, which they are replacing with a 130-unit luxury rental building. Other projects on Fourth include a condo building at 24 Fourth (formerly home to the Church of the Redeemer) and a condo building at 251 First, which was completed in 2016. The Real Deal has also noted that Adam America/Slate were involved in the controversial purchase of the Rivington House nursing home:

Slate and Adam America are among Brooklyn’s most active residential developers. One of the pair’s recent acquisitions, the Rivington House, made headlines after the city and the state began investigating seller Allure Group for allegedly misleading the city over the lifting of a deed restriction.

310 12th Street, a small, 20-unit apartment building was purchased by Slate Properties in 2014 for $5.75M.  The building was the subject of an investigation by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Violations issued at the building during 2014 and 2015 included material false statements concerning rent-stabilized apartments.  Slate sold the building in 2016 for $9.2M.

Culture converging?  Here at the borders of south Park Slope, Gowanus, and Sunset Park, we've grown all-too accustomed to the steady erosion of culture, diversity, and affordability.

Luis Torres and Ivan Fajardo deserve their jobs back, along with fair wages.  Contact your local politicians about the situation, and ask them to support the rights of local workers.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Tangled Web ...

Readers of the blog might remember my curiosity about 657-665 Fifth, the former Frost furniture warehouse buildings, where development construction has been stalled for 2 1/2 years.  The property was bought by developer Cheskel Strulowitz in 2013, for $8.5 M, and the mixed retail/residential project was described as "a game-changer" for the neighborhood.  Frankly I became a little obsessed with this SWO, and decided I was spending too much time thinking about the site.  Still, right after its two-year "anniversary," I've recently discovered, The Real Deal reported that a group of investors who put up the money for a $20M property deal had accused Strulowitz of operating a Ponzi scheme that cost them $90M in damages.

“In order to deceive the individual plaintiffs, the individual defendants employed numerous scam tactics in the style of Bernie Madoff,” the suit claims.
Strulowitz, whose name is sometimes spelled Chaskiel Strulovich, has been operating in Brooklyn real estate for over a decade, often with his brother Moses Strulowitz. Together, they own a portfolio of at least 180 apartments in 12 buildings throughout the borough. One of Strulowitz’s bigger projects, a planned makeover of an industrial building at 665 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, for which the developer paid $8.5 million, is one of the properties bought with the investors' funds.

A Real Deal story yesterday revealed more Strulowitz/Strulovich trouble. The landlord/property developer is facing foreclosure on a portion of a 31 property portfolio in Brooklyn.

Maverick Real Estate Partners, which in March launched a $75 million private equity fund focused on acquiring distressed debt, purchased about $40 million worth of loans from Signature Bank in May backed by the 31 properties Strulowitz owns across Brooklyn, records filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court show.
Just a few days after acquiring the loans, Maverick sent Strulowitz notices informing him that the loans were in default, and the lender was requiring the balances to be immediately paid in full, court records show.
According to foreclosure documents Maverick’s attorneys filed earlier this week, Strulowitz went into default on the loans, in part, because he claimed to be the sole owner of the properties, but his own court filings say he owned less than 56 percent.

According to the Real Deal article, the properties facing foreclosure include several bought with the money of the investors accusing Strulowitz of the Ponzi scheme.  I'm not adept at exploring court records, and don't know if 657-665 is one of the properties facing foreclosure.  Will update if I can find out more on this.

Earlier: And the Game Changer?


Friday, October 13, 2017

Towards Halloween

It's about that time of year to look at some local Halloween displays.  The ones that merely act as chic accessories to costly house makeovers or new mega-structures are not what I seek. I like a bit of over-the-top home-made fun, along with the everyday commercial stuff that gains its own magic in our own everyday settings.  Usually my Halloween culminates with catching the scene around Fifth, where revelers, making the rounds from C-Town to Girasol to Princess Pizza, tilt the avenue into a whole new one-day-special blaze of beauty.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Good Neighbors

The great guys at Danny's Rim & Tire Shop, at 482 Fourth (11th), are taking donations for aid to Puerto Rico.  They'll be accepting goods for another three weeks or so, and welcome baby food & diapers, feminine hygiene products and first-aid kits.  All products should be in sealed containers/wrappers.  If you want more information about hours, or what other donations might be useful, stop by, or call 718-965-4831.

Danny's (2012)

Vehicle Wraps on Prospect

Monday, October 9, 2017


I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time underneath the Gowanus Expressway. You never know what you're going to find there. The other day it was a castle.