Tuesday, November 13, 2018


I can't precisely date it, but from around the late nineteen-sixties to the eighties my mother worked on a quilt made from leftover scraps of fabric. While some of them may have been bought as remaindered pieces from a habadashery or two, most of them came from home. Outgrown or discarded items of clothing were the primary source.  She completed a quilt big enough to cover a queen or king sized bed (terms she'd have never used) but didn't finish the job by putting it together with a backing.  It could have been her weakening eyesight that put a stop to things - some of the needlework looks a little shaky in patches  Or it could have been confusion in her later years that made the task too daunting.

She gave the quilt to me shortly before she died, and I kept it in a wooden chest for the next couple of decades. Every so often I'd take it out and look at it.  The patterned pieces that I loved the best belonged to the childhood clothes she'd sewn for me: cotton summer dresses and pairs of shorts.  The dresses were simply made; to be honest I didn't appreciate them at the time.  I'd didn't like dresses much anyway and I'd rather have had the clothes shop-bought.  Now I try to trace their provenance:  the garment, the summer, the house that we lived in. There are other fabrics that matter.  I can't recall their origins but I know them. They're lodged in the senses.

I never mastered the domestic arts.  Certainly my mother never tried to teach me.  They seemed like drudgery, or a means of filling time best spent in other, more exciting ways.  Perhaps my mother thought so too.  I remember the evenings I watched her picking up the quilting, working a few more hexagons together.  It looked exhausting.  Today it's a wonder.

This summer I finally enlisted the help of a local artist and dressmaker to put the quilt together.  She did a beautiful job.  I think my mother would be very happy.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Eighth Street

Department of Records Tax Photo (1939 - 41)

With the Thomas Aquinas parochial school down at the bottom of 8th Street, the street's closed off for play time. It's the middle of the day; the shadows are short.  A man in a long white tradesman's apron strides briskly across the street.  He's just passed a guy who's carrying a kid indifferently, low on the body & horizontal.  The story's frozen at the billowing apron, the flailing legs, and the hand reaching into the jacket pocket for a quarter or a smoke.  The crease of a sleeve or a trouser leg are sharp in the sunlight but the faces are undefined.  Their business is none of ours.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Reyes Deli & Grocery & E-Z Laundry Cleaners.  As far as I know, no-one there has "taco" or "spin cycle" tattooed on their hands.  The Reyes food is good.

Gowanus Reaches New Culinary Heights With First Michelin-Starred Restaurant
I hope that it helps to grow the neighborhood and lets people know that they can follow their dreams out here,” said Claro’s chef, T.J. Steele, who has the word “Taco” tattooed on his hand. (WSJ)

Supercharging the Gentrification of Sunset Park (Gotham Gazette)
Industry City and Eighth Avenue Center’s rezonings will undoubtedly catalyze transformative neighborhood change. Augmented by Opportunity Zones, Sunset Park is facing a potential financial superstorm that will supercharge gentrification and displace the multi-racial, multi-ethnic working class populations and small businesses including industrial businesses that have long defined this neighborhood.

If you want to see where the NYC Opportunity Zones are situated (Amazon is headed for an LIC one), look here.
The Opportunity Zone Program in New York State
New York State is participating in the new Opportunity Zone community development program, offered through the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017. The federal program encourages private investment in low-income urban and rural communities. Based on analyses by Empire State Development (ESD), New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), New York State Department of State (DOS) and the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), New York State has recommended 514 census tracts to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for designation as Opportunity Zones. 

720,000 New York City tax photos from 1940 are now digitized so you can find your building online (6sqft)
The New York City Department of Records & Information Services has released 720,000 digitized images made from the original negatives, meaning that a photograph of every building in the city that was standing at the time is now available to look up online.

The Christmas elves again!
Ex-NYPD cop on trial for bribery says he didn’t have sex with hooker on plane (Post)
Prosecutors say Reichberg and Rechnitz teamed up in 2008 to bribe public officials and several cops, including Grant, who then helped them by going easy on arrested friends, fixing traffic tickets, expediting gun permits and resolving their private disputes.

Who's not sighing with relief that they're not up for jury duty right now?  But the combo of terror & levity is riveting.
Juror sobs after being picked for El Chapo’s trial (Post)
Jury selection was lively, with one potential juror getting the ax after he’d asked for the kingpin’s autograph, saying he was a “fan.”
Another man was tossed because he was worried he could be identified by his sandwich order, the “el Chapo,” while another was dismissed for being too easily identifiable as a Michael Jackson impersonator. Another six were tossed from the pool because they feared for their safety.

An Old-School New York Art-World Rivalry Makes a Comeback with Andy Warhol and John Ashbery Exhibits (Vanity Fair)
Ashbery is best known for his poems, but he was also a revered art critic and collector, and throughout the 60s and 70s became an integral member of the bohemian, hyperintellectual set of artists and poets collectively referred to as the New York School. Ashbery was a fixture in this urbane, multi-lingual scene, whose members often congregated at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and included poets Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch, as well as expressionists such as Jane Freilicher, Fairfield Porter, and Larry Rivers. Works by Freilicher, Porter, and Rivers—who would often gift paintings to Ashbery to thank him for positive reviews—have made their way into Kasmin’s show. Helen Frankenthaler gifted him a painting as well, and it now hangs in the show, though at one point she had awkwardly tried to buy it back.

Last screening of Ruth Kaaserer's documentary Gwendolyn tonight, at Anthology Film Archives
“Ruth Kaaserer enters an athletic environment that has little to do with the familiar images of muscle building, grinding workouts, and sweat. More restrained and graceful scenes were rarely seen at a gym. GWENDOLYN pays the same direct attention to the everyday life of this unusual woman: visits to the doctor, life with her much younger husband Charlie, conversations with her son about what writing and sewing have in common. Sometimes there’s no choice – the seams must be unstitched.”
 Gwendolyn Trailer from Taskovski Films on Vimeo.

So Long, Max Levitas (Spitalfields Life)
Max Levitas spoke of being at the centre of a definitive moment in the history of the East End in 1936 when three hundred thousand people came together to form a human chain – in the face of three thousand fascists with an escort of ten thousand police –  to assert the nature of the territory as a place where Fascism and racism are unacceptable. It was a watershed in resistance to Fascism in Europe and the slogan that echoed around Stepney and Whitechapel that day was “No paseran” – from the Spanish Civil War – “They shall not pass.”

Monday, November 5, 2018


If you have taken this rubble for my past
raking through it for fragments you could sell
know that I long ago moved on
deeper into the heart of the matter

If you think you can grasp me, think again:
my story flows in more than one direction
a delta springing from the riverbed
with its five fingers spread

                                             Adrienne Rich

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween Store

Neergaard Pharmacy (454)

Jasmine's Floral Designs (543)

Brooklyn Master Barbershop (393)

KC Tasty Deli and Grill (402)

Fama Party Center (268 14th)

H J Laundromat (565)

Park Slope Hardware (593)

Judy Unisex (521)

Lina Cuts and something more (699)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


HPD Releases "Speculation Watch List" to Fight Displacement in NYC Neighborhoods
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined Council Member Ritchie Torres and the Stabilizing NYC Coalition to announce the release of the “Speculation Watch List,” which identifies recently sold rent-regulated buildings where potentially predatory investment may put tenants at risk. The City is making this information available so that tenants and tenant advocates can see another indication of where tenant harassment may occur. The list was announced as part of the Predatory Equity bill, which was signed into law earlier this year.

I'm still confused about 237 11th Street's presence on the list.  A new, high-end, rental building, with no affordable housing units, where 2BR apartments are listed for $4-5K per month?

We’re Partnering With ProPublica On Election Coverage – Let’s Tell The Stories (Bklyner)
We have partnered with ProPublica on our election issues coverage, leading up and throughout the day on election day, to report on any irregularities. We’ve already covered electioneering in the Senate race, potential issues with Ballots being two separate pages, and the fact that translation services will yet again be stationed behind the 100-foot electioneering line, affecting those most in need of help.

The Home Reporter To Make Epic Endorsement For Golden (Bklyner)
The Home Reporter, for the first time in more than six decades, is throwing their support behind a local political candidate and they’re siding with the boss’ friend — State Sen. Marty Golden.
Charles “Chuck” F. Otey, long-time Southern Brooklynite and Golden associate, was crowned the new Executive Editor of the paper during a meeting last night, according to sources. Those sources say Otey suggested the publication break with tradition and endorse Golden.

Exploring the wilds of the Bronx’s Hutchinson River (Curbed)
There are only about a dozen places in the Bronx where the public could, if it wanted to, reach the banks of the Hutchinson River. Most of these access points involve pushing through a hole in a fence, or bushwhacking down overgrown paths, or trekking through flooded salt marshes. Perhaps because of its isolation, the Hutchinson River is now facing several existential threats.

The hills have eyes (Rag-Picking History)
The hills that encircle Greater Manchester on two sides are the city’s implacable edges; indeed, the boundaries of the urban region extend, in places, right up to their summit ridges – the highest point, at 472m, being Blackstone Edge above Littleborough. By day, walkers leave the city in search of succour; at night, from their summits, the city seems like a fairyland, a twinkling paradise of promise. Those hills are also places where the city’s more unpleasant realities are consigned to oblivion – unseen because out here we feel distanced from them. Yet, as flood and fire show us, those hills are still very much connected to the urban region – ramparts that return both succour and savagery to the city at their feet.

‘Inventing New Ways to Be’ (New York Review of Books)
Although Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) never considered herself an epic poet, it’s hard to think of a more apposite definition of her vast and varied oeuvre than the phrase with which Ezra Pound summed up his concept of the modernist epic (speaking, in his case, of The Cantos): “a poem containing history.” Scholars looking to chart the development of America in the six decades spanned by Rich’s career will discover in her work an intermeshing of poetry and history more extensive and searching than that to be found in any of her contemporaries.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Home Sweet Home

I like to get out to see what's going on with Halloween decorations.  I realize that what I like about them best is the context.  It's the yards and porches where the ghosts and monsters do their stuff that pull the whole thing off. 

On every street, the ghoulish and domestic worlds co-mingle.