Archive for the ‘Brooklyn’ Category

Tue 12 Oct 2010 11:54 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different

Reader reaction to my post about leaving Brooklyn

I received a lot of feedback on my post this morning, “On leaving Brooklyn.” It turns out I hit upon something a lot of people wanted to talk about—how Park Slope has spiraled downhill. Some of the responses are below.


Tue 12 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different, Over!

On leaving Brooklyn (retracted)

A retraction, October 22, 2014: Four years ago I wrote this grouchy blog post about Brooklyn, and got a lot of attention for it. In hindsight, it was mostly just whining. In particular, I’m sorry I fed into the negativity aimed at young people and parents in Park Slope. In about 2 weeks we move back to Brooklyn, because it’s a nice place to live. I’ve left this post published, but I’ve set it in strikethrough type to signify that I don’t stand by it any more.

* * * *

Two Saturday mornings ago, I was shopping at the C-Town on 9th Street in Park Slope. In the snack aisle I walked past a guy intently studying two bags of potato chips. He looked a lot like me, only with a shaggy beard and an untucked flannel work shirt, a popular look here. Next to him, an elderly lady asked for help reaching a box of garbage bags on a high shelf. “Just a second,” said the bearded guy, lost in his potato chip labels. “When you have a chance,” the woman said patiently.

I did the obvious thing. Since the other guy wouldn’t, I got the box for the woman. But I also had a very visceral reaction. I wanted to turn to the bearded potato chip scholar, get up in his face, and hiss, “Dude! What the fuck is wrong with you?!

Fortunately, I didn’t act on that impulse. But the next time I might. And that’s why it’s time to leave Brooklyn.


Tue 13 Jul 2010 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn

How I fought the bedbugs, and won

I’ve spent 6 months deciding whether to write this post. That’s how long it’s taken me to be sure the bedbugs are gone. Not that you’re ever really sure.


Mon 5 Jul 2010 7:30 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles, Brooklyn, Technology

Using GPS to map a bike ride

I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July weekend! I took Friday off, and had today off as a holiday, granting me a 4-day staycation here in Brooklyn. However, my weekend was disrupted somewhat by some scheduled dental surgery; I had my final two wisdom teeth extracted Friday. This wiped Friday off the map and made Saturday and Sunday an odd muddle of World Cup soccer, barbecues, beer, good times with friends and suffering from mouth pain.

Today, however, I’m feeling mostly recovered. I planned to spend the full day for a long bike ride. Unfortunately, once I woke up, I couldn’t muster the motivation to spend a full day outside in this heat. (It hit 98 today in Central Park.) Instead I rode a loop out to Coney Island and back.

On today’s bike ride, I used a free mobile application called InstaMapper to track my route on a map. I’ve tried InstaMapper before with limited success; the GPS on my Blackberry isn’t always reliable, and the program itself seemed to shut itself down randomly. Today, however, it worked brilliantly. Assuming it’s all still working, you can see an interactive map below showing my ride with pretty good precision. I find this kind of thing amazing.

Sun 6 Jun 2010 8:31 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Technology

What Facebook thinks Brooklyn looks like

What the hell, Facebook? I understand you probably need a little 50×50 graphic for every town in the world, but what’s up with Brooklyn’s?

I mean, what is that? A shot of the old Pier 1 warehouses seen from Manhattan? Or Omaha, Nebraska, on a hazy afternoon?

It’s not like we have a shortage of icons. A rooftop water tower. A slice of pizza. The F train climbing the Culver Viaduct. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building clock tower. The Parachute Jump. The Cyclone. And isn’t there a bridge in Brooklyn that people might recognize?

Come on, Facebook. The 2.5 million residents of Kings County deserve better.

Sun 16 May 2010 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Hard times, Transit

You’ll be waiting a long time for that bus

There are a few constant beats in the rhythm of the streetscape of my neighborhood. Food delivery guys ride their Huffys in any weather. Trash pickup is twice a week. Recycling and street sweeping are once a week. In the summer, Mister Softee comes around every evening. And the B67 runs all night.

So much for the B67. This sign says it all:

Sign: Attention! The following changes to bus service will take effect due to budget reductions.

Among the lines being cut are my B67, which will still run, just on a reduced schedule. The MTA is also merging several subway lines (goodbye to the W and V designations) and increasing overnight spacing of trains.

Honestly, I will be fine. I can bike, walk, plan, improvise, flag down a gypsy cab, or do whatever I must do to get around. But not everyone can. Transit cuts disproportionally hurt the poor, as well as the elderly and other people who might have trouble walking long distances. In Brooklyn, bus routes form a fine mesh that fills in the gaps between subway stations. (If you don’t live here and you’ve never seen it before, you might enjoy viewing the shocklingly complex Brooklyn bus map.) Buses enable the people who can’t afford cars, who work in outer-borough neighborhoods, to get to and from their jobs and appointments. It’s not their fault tax revenue is down and the state is cutting the MTA’s funding. Budget cuts hurt the wrong people.

Fri 7 May 2010 7:22 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, In the news, New York is different

Every American should spend a day in Prospect Park

“The citizens of New York are tolerant not only from disposition but from necessity. The city has to be tolerant, otherwise it would explode in a radioactive cloud of hate and rancor and bigotry.” — E.B. White, “Here is New York.”

“If we want to have a future, we need to have more immigrants here.”—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, April 2010

I live a couple of blocks from Prospect Park, one of the best-utilized urban green spaces in the world. Constructed in the 1860s, it was designed by landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux as their encore to Central Park. To call it a success is a gross understatement. On any nice day, it’s packed with people enjoying the rolling, tree-studded lawns and ballfields, cookout areas, concert spaces and other free, public facilities.

The park is made truly rich by the Brooklyn neighborhoods that surround it. To stroll around the park is to stroll around the world. Everyone can dress how they feel most comfortable, speak their own language, and enjoy the games, foods and music from their culture. Nobody ever gets called out for looking different.

Sat 3 Apr 2010 11:49 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different, Photos

Lutheran Halal Cafe

This is real. Only in Brooklyn!

Mon 22 Feb 2010 10:45 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Holga, Photos

Six Holga photos of Brooklyn in winter

Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building (a.k.a. One Hanson Place), downtown


Wed 10 Feb 2010 9:41 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Videos, Weather

Video: Snow falling in Brooklyn

The snow’s not too bad here—just enough to make the city feel abnormal. Here’s a video I shot on my way to and from work today.