Saturday, December 16, 2017

South Brooklyn

This quiet assortment, a group of pitched-roof wooden houses of the mid to late 1800s.  Back of the Grand Prospect Hall, you catch them off guard, these pieces of an older Brooklyn disappearing frame by frame by frame.

Friday, December 15, 2017

from Sleeping on the Wing

Perhaps it is to avoid some great sadness,
as in a Restoration tragedy the hero cries “Sleep!
O for a long sound sleep and so forget it!”
that one flies, soaring above the shoreless city,
veering upward from the pavement as a pigeon
does when a car honks or a door slams, the door
of dreams, life perpetuated in parti-colored loves
and beautiful lies all in different languages...

                                                      Frank O'Hara

When the system lets you down there's always ...

Thursday, December 14, 2017


You're the Boss, Applesauce: In Memory of Flawless Sabrina, 1939-2017 (Romy Ashby's Walkers in the City)

Joseph Rodriguez's El Barrio in the '80s  (Museum of the City of New York)

Grassroots Tavern Will Close Dec. 31, After 4 Decades On St. Marks (Bedford and Bowery)

Over at Fifth & 18th - Loft Tenants Say City OK’d Their Dangerous Building (City Limits)

The women boxers of Gleason's Gym – photo essay (Guardian)

Anderson Zaca's photographs of Brooklyn block parties (Brooklyn Paper)

Katia Kelly's overview of recent developments in Gowanus (Pardon Me for Asking)

Gowanus Sewage Cleanup Will Clear Out Several Businesses (City Limits)

In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek - What was once one of New York’s most polluted waterways has been transformed (Nathan Kensinger, in Curbed)

A Curious Menagerie of Mutant Taxidermy - the fabulous art of Takeshi Yamada (Atlas Obscura)

East End Saree Shops (Spitalfields Life)

Back to Black: Manchester Smoke (Rag-Picking History)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fifth Anniversary

Making their way down 9th Street, members of the Carrera Guadalupana (Ministerio Mexicano) congregation. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


I always like seeing the Christmas decorations at this home on 8th Street. This was once the P. De Rosa grocery store and from what I've heard the building remained (or still remains) in family hands long after the store closed.  Just look at that window and its golden signs: Schaefer, Rheingold, candy & cigarettes, the family name, the small, perfect 1/2.  The permanent letters and once-a-year figures know each other well.

It's something of a mystery to find a store like this in the middle of a residential block. Were there once others? Looking in the local press archives, I could find no mention of a grocery store here.  There were plenty of De Rosas living in the area though. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The School Bus

I spotted the bus parked on a Gowanus street. Of course. The Bread & Puppet theater company was back in town, performing its annual run in the East Village, where it was founded. If you're thinking seasonal means Rockettes or Wonderful Lives, think again:

"Directed by founder Peter Schumann, the shows hope to inspire the general public to create possibilitarian alternatives to our current political order. “Domestic insurrection is called for when the organs of public information are owned and manipulated by the same interests that own and manipulate the self-destructive economy”, says Schumann. “Domestic insurrection is the urgent response of citizens and residents to prevent imminent catastrophe.” The Domestic Insurrection Circus is 2017’s iteration of the large-scale political puppet circuses that Bread & Puppet has mounted each year since 1970. With brightly colored flags, twenty-foot cardboard billionaires, paper-maché animals, dada slapstick antics and a giant fantastic brass band the circus encourages audiences to take action against the intolerable political circumstances of the moment.
The Honey Let's Go Home Opera is a foray into flatness with cardboard as its muse and prime material. Cardboard is bent, stapled, and vividly painted by Schumann to create surrealist costumes and improbable puppets. “The nature of cardboard is refuse”, sings a chorus member, “meaning the discard of the economic empire´s excesses. By declaring reality to be cardboard you open the gates to unheard of growth and prosperity.” (City Guide NYC)

Our own family has seen several Bread & Puppet performances, both in New York & at the company's base in Glover, Vermont.  The Glover trip involved a whole bunch of kids poorly secured in a vintage, converted VW camper driven by a (vintage) family friend.  It was long on charisma & short on safety, but all survived the crazy ride.

Photo by Greg Cook 

Bread & Puppet offers grand spectacle & a bracing dose of anti-establishment invective.  It's a period trip, to be sure, & its style & substance reflects the company's 60s roots, right down to the home made bread handed out to audience members after the show, but its message remains topical, and its methods influential:

"Still the circus retains Bread and Puppet’s signature brew of political satire, poetic tableaus, and vaudeville clowning ... Giants of the “99 percent” confront “corporate dwarves.” A (literal) whistle blower emerges from the intelligence community. The dead of our war in Afghanistan are remembered. Plans for an oil pipeline across Vermont are criticized. A song is sung to honor “the courageous soldier Chelsea Manning, who got 35 years in prison for telling the truth...”
...The theater’s influence is profound. One example: the giant puppets that routinely appear at public protests are descendents of Bread and Puppet—often directly because company alums have started their own theaters around the world. "(The Artery, WBUR, 2013)

At the end of this catastrophic Year of Trump (with little relief in sight), a blast of Bread & Puppet might be just what we need.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Prance On

It's good to see them from the viaduct, but for one reason or another I've been riding the R more over the last few days.  I haven't done much walking either, but I did get a paltry snow walk in yesterday, and caught the reindeer from ground-level. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Again, the New York School

from Late Echo

Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting...

                                                           John Ashbery