Red Hook StarªRevue SOUTH BROOKLYN’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
March 16 - 31
Fireworks Erupt at Police Meeting! by Matt Graber twitter:@mattgraber84
“Judging by the number of people here, some of you must have something to say,” quipped Community Council President, Jerry Armer, after leading the roomful of Occupy Red Hook activists in a slightly awkward recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Armer took his usual stance beside the podium where the captain stood. “So who’s going to be first?” Normally at these monthly meetings, held in a classroom in the basement of the 76th Precinct station house, Captain John Lewis runs through the previous month’s crime stats, announces of the cop of the month, and perhaps a few residents complain about cyclists riding their bikes on the sidewalk. The March 6th meeting proved to be a little bit livelier. Almost everyone had a story to tell. The speakers ranged in age, race and class, representing both the Front and the Back sections of Red Hook. They recounted specific incidents, sometimes in vivid detail, in which officers acted in a manner that they felt was not courteous, not professional and not respectful. Derrick Barnicoat was walking down Atlantic Avenue with a bike he had just bought for his girlfriend when two plain clothes officers stopped him, asking him if the bike was his. They proceeded to squeeze his pockets, saying they were looking for drugs. When Barnicoat offered to pull out the contents of his pockets, they told him not to and asked where he lived. He said he lived on Henry and West 9th Streets. A cop then asked why he was not walking down Henry Street. He explained that he did not want to take the foot bridge. An officer asked why that was. Barncoat said that he did not feel safe on the footbridge, that he could get his bike stolen. “I said look, I’m not a thief, I’m a dog walker,” he said. “People give me the keys to their house because they trust me to go into their house and not
steal their stuff. I told him that straight tends a garden on Van Brunt up and they said ‘I don’t believe a word Street. “I teach in Red Hook you’re saying.’” and I have a lot of kids who One of the officers then told him that unfortunately have really if they received another stolen bike re- negative attitudes towards port, that they knew who he was and cops and I don’t think it’s all would come after him. Barncoat began without more than a grain of Derrrick Barncoat vividly recounts an upsetting stop and frisk experience he had on Atlantic Avenue to feel like he was being challenged, like provocation.” it was up to him to be the calm and col- The law enforcement model This aggressive style of policing “has lected one and keep the situation from known as “broken windows” policing was apparently suppressed a certain amount becoming more of a confrontation. “I originally laid out in an influential article of spontaneous crime, generated a great felt endangered,” he said. “I’ve been of that same name, which appeared in a deal of useful intelligence, and reduced mugged before and if felt like that.” 1982 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. the number of people on the street Anecdotes like this are common in The article argued that police depart- with guns,” Anderson wrote. But it also the era of broken windows policing ments should increase the amount of leads to a greater sense of antagonism During the two-and-a-half-hour meet- officers on foot patrol, engaging people between police officers and the young ing, hands kept going up as Jerry Armer in high-crime areas more and deterring minorities who grow up in constant wrote names down so that everyone violent crime by targeting low-level of- fear of being accosted. The broken wincould be heard. In many cases the com- fenses. The model was adopted by two dows law enforcement model has corplaint was as simple as undercover cops subsequent New York City Police Com- responded with a noticeable drop in not showing their badges, as they are missioners, William Brattan and Howard violent crime in areas like Red Hook, required by law to do, and being rude Safir; it is as strong as ever under Mayor which felt much more dangerous in the in their demeanor. In more serious alle- Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly. 80’s and 90’s than it does today. But the gations, officers actually broke the law: In his 2001 article in the American heightened contact has also resulted in one woman bitterly recounted an eve- Prospect entitled “Policing the Police,” strained relations between police and ning when two female undercover offi- David Anderson - who was a strong the communities where broken wincers stopped her son on his way home advocate for gun control and criminal dows is intensely concentrated. from work and reached into his long- justice reform - wrote that the model’s Stop and frisks are an every day johns in search of drugs, which would primary strategy is to focus on “qual- event in high-crime communities constitute an illegal search; in another ity of life offenses” like public drink- The Center for Constitutional Rights - a case, uniformed officers grabbed a man ing or urination. “People stopped for liberal think-tank and criminal justice resuspected of graffiti by the back of the these minor violations are taken into form organization - reports that New York neck and squeezed forcefully, without custody if they cannot produce a valid City hit an all-time high in 2011 with having yet received a visual description government-issued photo identifica- 684,330 stop and frisks recorded. This of the perpetrator, who - as it would tion,” Anderson wrote. “They are then represents a 14 percent jump from the turn out - the man looked nothing like. interrogated about more serious crimi- previous year and a more than 600 per“I know that there are officers that start nal activity in the neighborhood as they cent increase since 2002. “Eighty-seven out with a very antagonistic approach,” wait for someone to come in and verify percent of those stopped in 2011 were said Rachel Schulder, who lives and their identity.” (continued on page 5)
Also In This Issue:
New BWAC show opens, page 16
Red Hook Crossword, page 13 46
Drama at Star-Revue offices, page 13
March is Women’s History Month
Emily Warren Roebling - Engineer Girl
by Mary Anne Pietanza
n an effort to recognize women’s achievements in historya virtually unknown topic in the field of education or on the minds of the general public- a program was started in 1978 by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County Commission in California on the Status of Women to implement “Women’s History Week.” Emphasis was placed on women’s struggles throughout the years in overcoming their right to education despite their roles as mothers. Awareness of the observance spread quickly to other educational systems throughout the country and by 1987, Congress, in response to lobbyists, officially declared the month of March “Women’s History Month.” The Red Hook Star-Revue would like to feature its own women of accomplishment in our cornerstone of South Brooklyn, U.S.A. with this year’s theme, Women’s Education - Women’s Empowerment, recognizing our first woman of great influence, Emily Warren Roebling, the wife of Wash- Painting of Emily Roeington Roebling, Chief Engineer of the construction of the bling that hangs in the Brooklyn Museum of Art Brooklyn Bridge. Born in Cold Spring, New York in 1843 to Sylvanus and Phebe Warren, Emily was the second youngest of twelve children. Her interest in education as a young woman was greatly supported by her older brother, Gouvernuer K. Warren, with whom she shared a close relationship after her father’s death. In 1864 Emily met and became acquainted with Washington Roebling at a military ball. Washington was the son of the Brooklyn Bridge designer, John A. Roebling, a civil engineer serving on Gouverneur Warren’s staff. Emily and Washington were married in 1865, after Washington’s release from the Army. While the senior Roebling began overseeing the Brooklyn Bridge Project, the newlyweds went to Europe to study bridge construction techniques. Upon returning they learned that Washington’s father had died of tetanus. Washington took charge of the construction site. Soono thereafter another tragedy struck when Washington developed Caisson Disease, caused by working at high altitudes. At first, he was able to oversee the construction from his balcony with binoculars while soliciting some assistance from his wife. But eventually his illness paralyzed him becoming permanently bed ridden, and thus required his wife to take on the full responsibility as field engineer. Emily Roebling took on the tasks of reporting the progress of work on the bridge, answering questions about the bridge from officials, contractors and competing engineers, delivering messages and requests to the bridge office, keeping all records, answering his mail and representing Washington at social functions. She continued studying topics in civil engineering: math, strength of materials, stress analysis, cable construction and catenary curves. Washington had to rely on Emily to carry out plans for completion of the bridge. Emily became such a major participant in the project that many people began to believe she was Chief Engineer. This continued for more than a decade. In 1882, the Mayor of Brooklyn sought to replace Washington on the grounds of his physical incapacity. Emily did what no other woman did before. She requested permission to address the American Society of Engineers. Her speech was so moving and eloquently presented that the Society agreed to allow Washington to remain as the Brooklyn Bridge’s Chief Engineer until the completion of the project in 1883. At the opening ceremony, speaker Abram Stevens Hewitt stated that the bridge was “an everlasting monument to the sacrificing devotion of a woman and her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred.” In addition to serving in the Relief Society during the Spanish-American War and other civic organizations, Emily Warren Roebling eventually went on to acquire a law degree from New York University. She died in 1903. A plaque dedicating the memory of Emily, her husband and father-in-law hangs at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Welcome to YOUR community newspaper!
The Red Hook Star-Revue The News of South Brooklyn Volume 3 No.6, March 16-31, 2012
Founded in 2010 by Frank Galeano and George Fiala
Staff Reporters............................ Elizabeth Graham, Matt Graber, Curtis Skinner Staff Photographer ............................................................... Elizabeth Graham Cartoonists .................................................... Vince Musacchia, Harold Shapiro Historian.....................................................................................John Burkard Contributors .....................Mary Anne Massaro, Danette Vigilante, Robert Geelan ............................................Reg Flowers, Michael Racioppo, Mary Ann Pietanza Calendar Editor ................................................................................ Eric Ruff Restaurant Critic .......................................................................... Erik Penney Advertising Specialist............................................................ Angelika Mitchell Co-Publisher and Editor......................................................... Kimberly G. Price Co-Publisher and Graphics ........................................................... George Fiala The Red Hook Star-Revue is published twice a month by Red Hook Publishing
We need letters to the editor as well as press advisories which can be mailed to:
Red Hook Star-Revue, 101 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
718 624-5568 - news tip line 917-652-9128 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Page 2 Red Hook Star-Revue
www.redhookstar.com March 16 - 31, 2012
76th Precinct Community Council gets full house at March meeting (continued from page 1)
Black or Latino,” the report states. “And the abysmally low rates of correlation between stops and actual arrests persist: nine out of ten persons stopped were not arrested, nor did they receive summonses.” Barncoat’s story of being stopped by those two officers led to a discussion of the term “reasonable suspicion,” which is a variation on “probable cause” that makes it legal for an officer to stop someone on the street and pat them down for weapons. Renis Rabii, a local carpenter and member of Occupy Red Hook, raised his hand to ask about the definition of reasonable suspicion. “Anybody can say that they have reasonable suspicion,” he said. “But what is the criteria?” Captain Lewis emphasized that every situation is different, but that essentially “if a reasonable person would suspect” that a crime is in play, the action is permissible. There are, however, specific criteria that officers have to cite when reporting a stop and frisk. The criteria are listed in a March 2010 paper from the Center on Race, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The most common reason for stops in 2008 was “furtive movements,” a classification as controversial as it is vague. Second on the list was “casing a victim/location.” “Fitting a description” was and is a popular category, and another controversial one when you consider the potential for racial profiling that the phrase evokes. “Clothes commonly used in crime” is another less common criterion.
Captain Lewis empathizes, but sticks up for his officers
The captain evinced his usual amiable charm throughout the meeting, despite having to miss two Big East games which he later joked about. More than one Occupy activist, even while bashing some of his officers, vocalized that he seemed “like a nice guy.” Captain Lewis acknowledged that in many of the accounts brought forth by the Occupy group and its supporters, that the officers did in fact act inappropriately. One point that he made in their defense was that there is a learning curve when it comes to policing. Just like in any other profession, it takes time and some trial and error to learn to do the job well. “It’s stuff you learn as you move through your career and become more confident in your abilities,” he said. “I’m out there in the street working with my guys. The things you are talking about, I’m trying to get it done, and the way I get it done is through leadership and example.” Lewis prides himself as a precinct captain who does not just spend his days at the station house. At community meetings
Candice Sering complained about police treatment of suspects outside of Hope and Anchor (photo by Elizabeth Graham)
over the last 18 months, he has consistently portrayed himself as an approachable hands-on guy, joining his officers in chasing bad guys through Coffey Park and training his men and women on the field. “I want to be fair to my officers,” he said. “I think we have an audience that’s skewed. I think if you polled 95 percent of the people in this community they would say that they are being served very well by the police.” To every allegation of police misconduct the captain offered the same response. It was at once entirely reasonable and totally unsatisfactory to the people at the meeting: that he had not heard of the incident, but that he would look into it. The captain urged everyone to contact the Civilian Complaint Review Board, (CCRB), in the event of police misconduct. “If you don’t report it,” he repeated several times, “then I have no way of knowing about it and I can’t address it.” Judging by the reactions in the room when the captain brought up the CCRB, few had ever heard of the agency, which was formed in 1950 in order to hold officers accountable for police brutality against minorities. According to the 76th Precinct’s Department of Community Affairs, five complaints have been made to the CCRB so far this year, which puts the precinct on track to quadruple its 2011 total of 11 complaints. However 2011 was a marked improvement on the 24 complaints made in 2010. The numbers are only half significant, though, since the department would not say how many of the complaints were substantiated by CCRB investigators and, if so, whether
the officers in question were disciplined. “There are people in this meeting that know me and know that I go out on the street and talk to everybody,” Lewis said. “And I really try to find out what’s going on. I try to know the personalities. The people that are committing robberies in the 76th Precinct, I know them, I know their parents and I know their grandparents. And I speak to them like I speak to the people here. I know them like that. That’s my job. That being said, when people make reports for robberies, I review them carefully and then I tell my officers where I need them to be so we can prevent these crimes.” “By the same token, if you are dealt with in an unprofessional manner, if you don’t make that CCRB, I really don’t have a way to know who’s not acting professionally. Because, I can tell you that in 2011 - what the reality is out on the street I don’t know - but from where I sit, complaints were down, so I have to assume that we’re doing well because this is how we measure it at the police department. So my reality may not really be your reality, but that’s what I go by.”
“Your perception problem is a real problem”
A few months ago, around midnight, two young men, one Black and the other Latino, were up against a fence outside Hope and Anchor with eight uniformed officers surrounding them. Candice Sering, who works at the restaurant, said that she watched apprehensively as the officers insulted the two young men, “basically egging them on and saying things like ‘is this your boyfriend?’” “And to me that’s not being courteous and professional,” Sering went on. “That’s instigating and making youth to feel traumatized and afraid.” At first, no one would tell Sering why the two young men were being stopped, but as
it turned out, there had been a robbery in the area and one of the men matched the description of a dark-skinned man in a red sweatshirt. “They said thank you for staying after the cops left,” she said, adding that the two young men were quite shaken up by the experience. “I’m not saying all your cops are bad cops, but the reality is that there are enough instances that this is an issue. At the end of the day you guys have guns and we don’t.” “I grant that this audience is somehow skewed,” said Chris Hammett near the end of the meeting. “But I don’t think 95 percent of the people in Red Hook feel they are being treated with respect. You have a perception problem. And it’s a real problem. It’s making people want to cooperate with the police less. It may be a perception problem, but your perception problem is a real problem that’s making it difficult for you to do your work.” As the meeting wound down, suggestions were made on how to improve perceptions from both sides. Wally Bazemore, a long-time resident of the Red Hook Houses, recalled having the captain and several officers over to his apartment the previous week to discuss ways to improve policecommunity relations. Conversely, people wishing to better understand the experience of police officers should take the 15week Citizen’s Police Academy course, as was suggested by Gowanus Tenants Association President Marguerite Scott. “We have a certain level of unease on both sides,” said John McGettrick of the Red Hook Civic Association, who had sat quietly in back of the room and listened for two hours before speaking up. “We have to get to know the police better and they clearly have to get to know us better,” he added. “And in doing so, I think a lot of the hostility, and shall we say this nervousness, will go down on both sides.”
The civilian oversight agency that most civilians have never heard of
The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) started out in the 1950s as a committee of three deputy police commissioners. But the name of the agency was misleading; for decades, investigations were undertaken by police officers. In the 1990s, highly publicized incidents of police brutality such as the Rodney King beating provoked enough public outrage to give Mayor Dinkins the momentum to form the civilian oversight agency that had been on the liberal agenda since Mayor Lindsay’s administration. Today’s CCRB is composed of 13 members: five are appointed by the mayor; five are appointed by the City Council (one for each borough) and the remaining three are appointed by the Police Commissioner. Most of the law enforcement community and its supporters have historically opposed civilian oversight of the police. People with no experience on the job, they argue, have no business ruling on cases of alleged misconduct because they simply lack the knowledge to make informed and unbiased decisions. Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute - a conservative think-tank - is one of the most vocal opponents of the agency. She wrote in the New York Post in 2004 that the CCRB is nothing more than a politicized agency designed by the liberal establishment to harness antipolice sentiment in minority communities. She added that “[t]he majority of complaints the CCRB receives are bogus, filed by criminals hoping to make their arresting officers’ life miserable.” On the other side of the argument are reform advocates who criticize the CCRB for being too weak.
Captain Lewis presides over a full room of concerned Red Hookers
March 16-31, 2012
As The Times reported, Franklin H. Stone resigned as as chairwoman of the CCRB in 2009, citing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s apparent unwillingness to follow the Board’s recommendations to discipline officers. The lack of power to prosecute has led advocates for stronger civilian oversight to dismiss the agency as a virtual joke, or as Anthony Miranda of the Latino Officers Association put it at a New York City Policing Roundtable meeting in 2004, “a lion with no teeth.”
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 3
News From the Street written and collected by the Star-Revue editorial staff
Columbia Street Connector
members met to develop a plan to improve this part of the neighborhood. At this meeting the progress of the plan will be reported and plans for implementation will be discussed. Options will be presented for greening the corridor, calming traffic, connecting residents to the waterfront, and connecting the Red Hook neighborhood to the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route. RSVP to email@example.com with “Columbia Street Connector” in the subject line.
The presentation will include a design vision for the CSC, the stretch of Columbia Street between Lorraine Street and the Erie Basin Pier, including the Greenstreet at Halleck, in Red Hook. The idea is to improve the pedestrian experience between the Red Hook Houses, the Columbia Street Esplanade, Red Hook Park and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.
Take a tree home for free—legally
The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and Regional Plan Association are holding a meeting on Monday, March 19th, at 6:30 pm at the Red Hook Initiative767 Hicks Street- to present a plan for improving a portion of Columbia Street known as the Columbia Street Connector (CSC). They are seeking the Red Hook community’s input on what improvements would be desirable to make this an attractive route and destination for Red Hook residents.
This stretch of Columbia Street has low traffic and wide sidewalks. The land uses in the northern three blocks are mostly industrial and commercial and the pedestrian experience there and on the Esplanade could be improved significantly with vegetation and other treatments. The Esplanade itself is currently barren, with no vegetation or shade, but it could become a more attractive destination with some trees and landscaping. In April 2011, Red Hook community
If you love trees and would like to have one for free, please join the Gowanus Canal Conservance who will be giving away free trees at the Salt Lot which is located at 2 Second Avenue, right next to at the Canal close to 5th Street, on Saturday, March 24th from 11am - 3 pm. Starting at 11:00 AM, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy will be giving away 100 trees for free, courtesy of MillionTreesNYC and New York Restoration Project. The only requirement is that you must plant the tree in the ground on private property. This means that you may not plant the tree on the street, in a container, or on a roof. Some of the species they will be giving away include: Winter King Southern Hawthorne, Southern Magnolia, Crape Myrtle and River Birch. The Gowanus Canal Conservancy will not make any deliveries and all trees must be picked up on the day of the giveaway. The event will occur rain or shine and is first come-first serve, so the early attendees will receive first choice of the available selection. You may register and reserve a tree online by negotiation the NYRPA.org website. For additional information email tom@ gowanuscanalconservancy.org.
Torrey Maldonado reading at Red Hook Initiative
Red Hook Initiative’s Middle School Reading Club will be reading Secret Saturdays (Penguin USA) by Torrey Maldonado during the month of March. It has been chosen by the American Library Association as one of the 87 titles on the Quick Pick list for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, (ages 12 - 18), and Mr. Maldonado was named one the 2012 Top Ten New Latino Authors to watch and read. When the club gathers on Thursday, March 29, the critically acclaimed author himself, who was born and raised blocks from the Red Hook Initiative’s current location, will join the conversation and answer questions. Along with discussing his “infectiously readable” novel, (Michael Cart, Booklist). Mr. Maldonado will share his
The VFW post on Van Brunt Street was closed last week as a new floor and other renovations were being done. It reopened this past Monday and it has now taken on the decor of one of our new fancy restaurants, as these photos attest, including member Eddie Acosta (photos by George Fiala) experiences as a successful writer and respected educator. The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development funds the Red Hook Initiative’s middle school after-school program which provides five days of programming in the areas of academic enrichment, leadership development, life-skills building, and tutoring for 35 youth from the community. Literacy is a key component of our program and with the generous donation of 15 Sony e-readers from the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, the Red Hook Initiative has been able to merge participants’ interest in literacy and technology. Secret Saturdays is the first book being read by this weekly book club of young scholars. Author Torrey Maldonado grew up in the housing projects of the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn where violence and poverty took its toll on many of his peers. He went on to get his Bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Baruch College and has taught at a NYC public school for over a decade. Mr. Maldonado’s novel, Secret Saturdays, puts on paper with startling clarity, the emotions felt and hardships youth experience while growing up fatherless in a tough unforgiving section of Brooklyn. The Red Hook Initiative believes that social change to overcome systemic inequities begins with empowered youth. In partnership with community adults, they nurture young people in Red Hook to be inspired, resilient, healthy, and to envision themselves as co-creators of their lives, community, and society. The Red Hook Initiative currently has 65 staff members and 62 of them live in or are from Red Hook, Brooklyn.
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Museum seeks interns
The Waterfront Museum seeks interns and/or volunteers to assist us in creating some ads and in improving our social media presence on Facebook, Pinterest, and Foursquare. Anyone interested please contact David Sharpe at (718) 624-4719. The Waterfront Museum, founded in 1985, is located across from the second Fairway Parking Lot at 290 Conover Street. It is housed aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge #79, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is to: provide free and low-cost opportunities for education, exhibition, and the performance arts; promote historic preservation and our maritime heritage and an understanding of the importance of our water highway for commerce, carrying commuters, culture, and recreation; provide public access to waterfront piers, their unparalleled vistas and recreational opportunities; be an active voice for public waterfront access issues up and down the river.
Postal workers get mad
A notice posted on Columbia Street announces a mass demonstration in support of the Postal Workers Union taking place on Saturday, March 17th, 2 pm at the General Post Office on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. The purpose of the demonstration is to save 200,000 union jobs as well as oppose the planned elimination of Saturday deliveries and the closing of 34 NYC post offices. For more information call Community/Labor United for Postal Jobs and Service, 212-366-6646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Off The Hook benefit
On Monday, March 26th, from 7 -10 pm, Kidd Studios, 133 Imlay Street, will be hosting a fundraiser for Falconworks Artist Group. Falconworks has been working with Red Hook youth for over five years producing plays written by local students. The benefit will feature “a giant collaborative art project to envision a new a new and better Red Hook,” as well as theatrical performances, food and drink, a silent auction, a digital photo booth and a dance party. All proceeds will benefit the theater program, called “Off the Hook” as well as the Red Hook Theater Project. For tickets call (718) 395-3218 or visit www.redhooktheater.org.
March 16-31, 2012
March 16-31, 2012
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 5
Occupy the Hook Building Community
bout nine years ago, I founded a theater company in Red Hook. The dream was to make plays that would respond to the issues and the culture of this diverse South Brooklyn community. I hoped these plays would resonate deeply with the people who live, work and play here. Falconworks Artists Group (www.redhooktheater.com) has gotten tons of support from our neighbors, local businesses and other community organizations to make theater that brings us together on common ground. Our plays Reg Flowers are created by people from the neighborhood—most are written by kids younger than 14 years old. It’s been an incredible experience for which I am very grateful, and I see the work we’ve done so far as a great success. Falconworks presents plays that show the world as it is, dealing with issues common to residents like education, pollution, domestic violence, drug abuse and transportation. Sometimes they are pretty melodramatic; other times they are funny. Even at times, they get their point across through music and dance. We always aim to present a problem that the audience will understand and then we try to show characters trying to work it out. We try to engage the audience at every performance with moderated discussions and talk backs. Sometimes we even invite the audience onstage and try their own ideas. In recent years, Falconworks has adopted the principles of popular education, which places emphasis on the participants, in our case, the audience to drive the event. It’s about getting the audience involved and raising their consciousness as well as entertaining them. The audience is also encouraged to see each other and to get acquainted with the faces around them. People leave the performance and use what they learned from their experience in their own lives. They may even say hello to someone they met at a show the next time they pass on the street. I hope that the audience, the actors, the youth and others who are part of this work see it as more than just doing a play, but as building a community. The work I have been able to do through Falconworks Artists Group can be applied to Occupy Red Hook which also focuses on building community. In fact, Occupy Red Hook is the logical outgrowth of the artistic effort of Falconworks. Theater allows people to imagine the world and then uses theatrical tools to bring that world into being. Occupy Red Hook allows us to use a similar practice to transform community through the tools of analysis and collaboration. In both cases the person, or the group, has to first envision the world they would like to create and then develop a plan to make it happen. Neither part of that task is necessarily easy. It requires careful attention, practice, patience and the space for all those things to occur. On Monday, March 26, 2012, Falconworks Artists Group will have our annual benefit at Kidd Studios (133 Imlay Street in Red Hook). Our hope is to bring folks together from all corners of the neighborhood to celebrate the work we do. Lots of local businesses and individuals from the neighborhood will be part of the event which is always a pretty cool thing. We also want to launch a new phase of our work in the community—a phase where the focus of our work will be to create a common vision for Red Hook. Having a vision will create opportunities to come together to make that vision real. I’m excited to think what will spring from the collective energy of a community like ours. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to dancing and a fun party.
Elected officials endorse congresswoman Nydia Velazquez for re-election
Assemblymembers Joan Millman and Jim Brennan, State Senators Velmanette Montgomery and Daniel Squadron, Councilman Brad Lander, and District Leaders Jo Anne Simon and Chris Owens announced they are endorsing Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives. Citing her willingness to stand up for working families the lawmakers praised Congresswoman Velazquez for her leadership” Councilman Brad Lander said, “Nydia Velazquez has been a leader on issues that matter: fighting for small business access to capital, winning hundreds
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of millions of dollars to clean up the Gowanus Canal and improving our neighborhoods, partnering to secure improvements on the B61 bus and the Brooklyn Greenway, standing up for our democracy and the civil rights of all New Yorkers.” The congresswoman is the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. Her re-election is in little doubt. She has routinely won with over 90% of the votes since her district is overwhelmingly Democratic and the Republicans do not generally put up a viable candidate. Any uncertainty in this district would only be in the Democratic primary.
Condoms and Conjugals:
Local pol Velmanette Montgomery, (D— Senate District 18), sponsored legislation currently making its way through the Senate that would require correctional facilities to distribute free condoms to inmates. The bill aims to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among New York State inmate populations. While at the same time, Michael Nozzolio, (R— Senate District 54), introduced a bill that would eliminate the “family reunion program”—better known as the conjugal visit program. The bill moved to the finance committee earlier this month and aims to eliminate the $800,000 program due to budget cuts. So one hand, the legislature is providing inmates with free condoms while on the other hand eliminating the possibility for them to meet with their loved ones.
Victory for open government:
Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill that will require
all municipal agencies to make their data publicly available in an easily accessible format by 2018. The bill, named Intro 29A, was sponsored by long time open government advocate Gail Brewer, (D—District 6), from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Last Monday, Brewer spoke on a panel at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Of the bill she said, “For those of us who live and breathe these five boroughs getting information from the police department, from the department of education, from the department of homeless services, et cetera […] whatever it is, that information doesn’t come readily.” One concern about the bill however, is the lack of penalties for agencies that don’t comply. At the event, Brewer responded by saying that the departments would be held to “the honor system.” But given the lack of transparency in some agencies, the Red Hook Star-Revue is not holding its proverbial breath.
Middle and Civil
by Michael Racioppo n our last issue, Matt Graber reported on the possibility of the sales staff at Phoenix Beverage unionizing. In the piece, Graber highlights that the owner of Phoenix Beverage, Rob Brayman, is discouraging this possibility. He quotes Brayman, in an email to his sales staff, saying that a union would “not be good for you” or “the company.” In the same email Brayman says that the union movement has “failed.” Failed to “protect jobs, maintain employee wages and benefits.” He goes on to say that “this has not been good for the employees who still had to pay the union monthly union dues and other assessments.” Brayman owns the company. He stands to financially benefit from the wage and benefit cuts to his workers and says the reason such cuts have occurred is due to a failure of union. It is possible that he is a practitioner of altruism and is looking out for his workers above his own self interest. This is also high unlikely. Consider that whatever complaints the potentially unionized sales people have, they could be dealt with by Brayman himself. No union required. But what he is doing, by portraying the broader concept of a union as a bad thing for the workers is promoting fear and ignorance of what unions can- and have done- for workers. The combination of ignorance and fear is a threat to our democracy and the middle class that seems to disappear more and more each day. When someone like Brayman writes to his workers and cites the fact that union membership in the private sector has dropped from over 30 percent down to 7 percent since the 1970s and blames it on unions, he commits a sin of omission. What he omits is that most workers want to join unions, but at the same time, labor regulations have become anachronistic with little updating since the FDR administration. For example, the protections for a worker trying to start a union exist but are of little consequence to ownership. Yes, it is illegal to fire such a worker, but penalizing the employer for this can only occur if a worker is brave enough to file charges. On top of that, the costs of paying back wages to such a worker is often cheaper than having unionized employees stand together for better benefits and wages. The creation of a union also gives the workers the powerful leverage of a potential strike that shuts down ownerships revenue stream. Bottom line- it is cheaper to illegally nip a union movement in the bud then to legally allow it to flourish or wilt on its own. What can and should be done about this? An excellent starting point would be the work of scholars Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Zarvit. In their new book “Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right: Rebuilding a Middle-Class Democracy by Enhancing Worker Voice,” they argue that making unionizing a protected civil right will continue the linked history of the civil rights and labor movements. In doing so, and as the title of their book states, it will help rebuild the American middle class that every politician under the sky praises, but does nothing to really help. By having the unionization rights protected as civil rights the same way gender, religion and skin color are protected, allows procedures used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to be used by the National Labor Relations Board. This may not seem like a difference in anything other than the names of the agencies until you realize that workers, who sue for being dismissed when they are trying to organize, do not currently get compensatory and punitive damages, lawyers’ fees, have the opportunity to engage in pretrial legal discovery or have access to a jury. This makes workers have to deal less and makes it less enticing for employers to illegally fire people. Workers who are free to voice their opinions and thoughts on their work create a better work environment and are bound to spread across industries beyond what we see as typically unionized sectors. But for now it could help Phoenix Beverage workers- who keep seeing their wages cut or “restructured”- rise from the ashes. Michael Racioppo teaches Political Science at Brooklyn College
March 16-31, 2012
A Sign of the Times in Red Hook by Mary Ann Massaro
f you ever find yourself driving or walking past Red Hook, you always look up to the sky. Red Hook has always been known for its beautiful sky, and people come from all over to photograph it, with the sunset scenes being the most popular. But there is another amazing sight you can see when you look up into the Red Hook sky, and that is the KENTILE sign hanging over an old factory building. You can Google the company and read all about their famous floor tiles. You can read about how they became so sought after for their vinyl tile design. But I look at that sign and my mind goes off in a different direction. Back in the 1950's and 1960's when I was growing up in Red Hook, Kentile, EJ Tum, Domino Sugar and many other companies were the major employers of our families. So on the one hand it makes me proud to see that sign in the sky that helped many fathers put food on their families' tables. On the other hand I have to wonder how many fathers and sons were unknowing exposed to asbestos back then. And so I make peace in knowing that times have changed. And along with the times the laws have also changed. It is good to know that families can go off to work today and not have to worry about being exposed to chemicals that will make them sick. So the next time you are passing through Red Hook and look up at that sign in the sky, just know that it is truly a sign of the times!
written and collected by Elizabeth Graham
February 27 - march 10 Joint was lit A hawk-eyed cop spotted a man with a burning joint on the 200 block of Bond Street about 10 p.m. David Montenegro, 26, of Decatur Street was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. Not sure when stolen A woman returned to her home on the 300 block of Degraw Street to find her two-carat diamond ring worth $9,000 and another gold ring worth $400 missing from the night table in her bedroom. She told cops the bling was taken sometime between Feb. 23 and March 10. Carroll Gardens victim An 84-year-old woman had a scare after she went downstairs to answer the door buzzer about 6:45 a.m. at 41 First St., returned to her bedroom and saw a strange man in the room with her. The thief fled when she screamed, but not before taking the woman’s wallet, credit cards, ID, checkbook and $75 in cash. Someone tried to use her credit card later that day, cops said. Rob and punch in the face Things went sour between two friends who were together in an apartment in the 200 block of Hoyt Street at 2:30 a.m. when Laquan Surles reportedly grabbed an iPhone worth $500 from a young woman’s hand, then punched her in the face. Surles, 33, of Nassau Street was arrested and charged with robbery. I heart graffiti (twice) Someone spray-painted a red heart on the south side of the Statewide Fireproof Company at 135 Third Street, cops said. Employees at Snapple at 212 Wolcott Street reported that someone spray-painted the word “sone” on the north side of the building.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez welcomes the children and their families celebrating Bumblebees R-Us OPEN HOUSE on February 26th.
Boo! A resident of an apartment building in the 300 block of Van Brunt Street scared off a possible intruder around 3 a.m. when he noticed a man on the roof of his building. The shadowy figure fled once he realized he’d been spotted, cops said. Smasher A burglar smashed through a glass door into Ghang Thai Kitchen at 229 Court Street sometime during the night and stole an unknown amount of cash from the ATM machine inside the restaurant Potted crime at Ikea A Coney Island man was busted for smoking marijuana in the Ikea parking lot by an officer who noticed him standing in the lot with a lit joint around 2 p.m. Gary Corneto, 51, was arrested and charged with criminal possession of marijuana.
March 16-31, 2012
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 7
Marshal Sohne ready to move ahead with green housing projects
Columbia Waterfront District to get futuristic new buildings by Elizabeth Graham
ig changes are afoot for the Columbia Waterfront District as developer Marshall Sohne and his partners begin work on a handful of high-end energy-efficient residential projects here.
Sohne’s company, Passiv House Xperimental, specializes in “passiv” construction – a European-developed energy conservation system that works by making buildings airtight. All of the current projects on the group’s worktable will use the system, which cuts energy consumption by about 85 percent. Plans are in the works for: • A four-story eight-unit condominium building at 138 Sackett Street, the site of the Luna movie theater in the 1950s. Construction will start on the 9,600 square-foot building in a few weeks and is expected to finish in about 18 months, architect Orlando Garcia said. • A two-family house, with a smaller apartment on the ground floor, at 107 Union Street, the site of an old chicken market. The new-construction 4,600 square-foot home will have a water view and a garage with a charger for an electric car. It will likely hit the market at more than $3 million. • An office building at 211-213 Columbia Street will be converted into a 13,500 square-foot six-story eight-unit condo or apartment building. Construction is set to begin in about six months. • The former Citibank building at 131 Union St., which now houses offices for Passiv House Xperimental, will undergo its conversion in about a year. The new design is for seven units encompassing about 10,000 square feet. • A warehouse at 33 Carroll St. will be demolished to make way for three townhouses and a building with up to eight apartments or condos with onsite parking. • Designers and architects plan to connect the buildings on Sackett, Columbia and 131 Union Streets by creating interior walkways so residents can access a shared rear courtyard. The $25-million project, which Sohne says “will be a real boost for the neighborhood,” is expected to be finished in about two and a half years. The company’s focus on the Columbia Waterfront District is in part because it is where all of the partners live. Creating more high-end housing, Sohne said, will in turn create demand for more shops and restaurants, improving the streetscape and attracting a wider variety of businesses. “We believe in the neighborhood. We live here, we work here,” said architect Hernan Galvis.
From left, archicted Orlando Garcia, Marshall Sohne with his dog, Babe, and architect Hernan Galvis in the Passiv House Xperimental office on Union Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District (Photo by Elizabeth Graham)
The explosion of projects is nothing new for Sohne and his team, who have designed and sold units in many neighborhoods, including Park Slope, Ditmas Park, Fort Greene, SoHo, Tribeca and Chelsea. The company went into planning mode during the recession, but now that the economy is looking brighter, “we’re ready to roll out again,” Sohne said. He and his partners also have plans to construct affordable housing at several different sites on Columbia Street. The company’s designs won a competition for the project and are waiting for further word from the city before starting construction.
Lawyer turned developer banks his future on Columbia waterfront By Elizabeth Graham
Avanzino & Moreno, P.C. 26 Court Street, Suite 205, Brooklyn, NY 11242
718 802-1616 jkvanzino.com
ell before he established a reputation as one of the area’s top developers, Marshall Sohne had no plans to cross from Manhattan to Brooklyn-much less live here-when he was a young lawyer living paycheck to paycheck 30 years ago. But those plans changed after he was assigned to work in Brooklyn as a defense attorney. “I was shocked; I really was never in Brooklyn in my life. I figured it was a bunch of wise guys and street smart people,” the Queens native said, whose perception changed after a look around. “I remember showing up in Brooklyn Heights and being on Montague Street and thinking this is so beautiful - it wasn’t what I envisioned.” Since 2007, Sohne and his partners have worked in a former bank building on Union Street where his dog, Babe, greets visitors with fiercesounding barks and growls that subside if you scratch behind her ears. The 4-year-old Presa Canario accompanies Sohne “everywhere, every day, to job sites, to everything, she’s an all-purpose friend.”
In the pursuit of justice, the attorneys of Avanzino & Moreno, P.C., meticulously prepare their cases for litigation. Clients can expect absolute trust, outstanding performance and total commitment, willingness and ability to go the distance. The firm’s bilingual attorneys have handled a variety of negligence, medical malpractice and complex litigation cases throughout New York City and upstate New York, achieving numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for their clients. Avanzino & Moreno, P.C. has also had the privilege to be trial counsel to some of the largest plaintiffs’ firms in New York.
Page 8 Red Hook Star-Revue
Now, the developer is gearing up for a number of energy-efficient highend residential projects along the Columbia Waterfront District, including sites on Carroll, Sackett, Union and Columbia Streets. His company, Passiv House Xperimental, boasts a group of designers, engineers, architects, construction and technology experts and energy efficiency consultants who he calls “the best team we’ve ever had.” Sohne’s career as a developer began to take shape in 1975 after he and his wife, who cast the deciding vote for a move to Brooklyn, rented an apartment for $1,000 a month in the Eagle warehouse building in what is now DUMBO. The couple, both lawyers in their 20’s, were getting by, but knew their income wouldn’t stretch once they had children, so Sohne started to explore his options. “I had to basically try to figure out how to make some more money,” he said. He watched and learned as his building’s owner converted the old warehouse into condominiums, and jumped at the chance to buy his apartment for $84,000. Sohne bought another apartment in the building for a good price, reselling it for a profit. Realizing that there was money to be made in rough, but growing neighborhoods, Sohne started eyeing other projects despite his inexperience as a developer. (continued on page 19)
March 16-31, 2012
Star-Revue political reporter Curtis Skinner catches up with a rising political star
A Conversation with Councilman Steve Levin
Star-Revue reporter Curtis Skinner
The Red Hook StarRevue was able to catch up with one of the City Council’s youngest rising stars, Councilman Steve Levin (D-District 33), last Friday. Busy between press conferences, committee meetings and jam sessions on his bass, Levin was able to sit down and talk about his burgeoning career, the City Council and New York City politics in general. Red Hook Star-Revue: Councilman Levin, people on the outside always hear that politics is a rough and dirty business. So I’m wondering what got you into it in the first place and what has kept you in the Council? Councilman Steve Levin: Well, I was in college during 9/11 and in the months that led up to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I started to get upset with what I was seeing in the run-up to the war and I felt that something was wrong with the way that it happened. I wasn’t really involved politically during college so I started looking for ways to have an impact. It took me about a year to find a job, but I worked under Vito Lopez (D—Assembly District 53) and we hit it off. I was 23 at the time, and he really showed me the ropes. He tutored me in city politics. And when a seat opened up he helped me win a really tough seven-way race. As for what has kept me in, I really enjoy being able to help people and to make a difference. As I understand it, you are on the Workforce Development Committee. What are you or the committee as a whole working on for places like Red Hook, where some parts suffer high poverty and unemployment rates on one hand and low education and job training opportunities on the other? Look, we need to be doing more effective job training all around the city. [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] started the Young Men’s Initiative recently, which helps with some of the city’s chronic problems—job opportunities for 16 to
March 16-31, 2012
24 year old Black and Latino men. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Workforce One, but they match people up with jobs, too. But we don’t have enough high-tech job training and we aren’t preparing people for the jobs that are going to be around in the coming years. It’s incredibly frustrating. I mean, New York has a fairly high unemployment rate, so when the Mayor goes around bragging about rates, it’s not true. One thing the city hasn’t been able to utilize is section three, (a program that helps residents of public housing secure jobs maintaining and operating their facilities), for NYCHA, (New York City Housing Authority), residents. A lot of jobs in the projects should be done by residents, but I see work being done by individuals that aren’t part of those communities. Public housing committees, like the one at Wyckoff houses for example, need to step up and do the hiring. A few months back, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, (D—Congressional District 12), sponsored a bill requiring a certain portion of public housing funds be channeled into workforce training for the residents. Is this something you think the city could benefit from? Absolutely, Nydia’s plan could be utilized in New York City. Some of NYCHA’s programs are the best in the country, but we could still do better.
sponsible. And that’s why, to be honest, they’ve gone to such lengths to skew… or spin data. Because they own it. But not all charters are bad. Plenty of charter school parents have come to me asking how to foster a conversation about it in their communities. They love it. But one of the main problems with the schools is that they’re put into buildings with schools that are on their way to getting better. (Success Academy Cobble Hill, for instance, was approved to be co-located in a building that already had three other schools. Two of them had turned D ratings into Bs.) The success of charter schools can often come at the expense of the traditional school. In co-locations, they have more resources, the DoE likes them and some are really politically connected. But co-locations don’t have to be adversarial. I’ve seen plenty where it works. Really, the way to alleviate the tension around charter schools is for them to open their own buildings. One of the problems I’ve noticed is the explosion of networks. Legislation was passed in 2007- I believe- that allowed networks to start forming and opening up multiple locations. How has this and co-location affected public education? It’s an empire. And [the co-location issue] is hard when networks are operating on the empire model. That model works
“If data shows that 12 percent of Stop and Frisks found suspects to have nothing on them, and less than 1 percent have weapons, it’s hard to argue that standards are actually being met. And there is no real reason behind so many incidents involving people of color. It’s insulting.” And we’ve been pushing to have joint oversight committees of both NYCHA and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for that. You’re on the Education Committee as well, so I’ve been wanting to get your thoughts on charter schools. The Star-Revue covered the Success Academy Cobble Hill story and has been following the lawsuits there and in Williamsburg. You were an opponent of the Cobble Hill co-location, but I’m wondering how you feel about charter schools around the city and the Department of Education more generally? It’s hard to say in a blanket kind of way that charters are good or bad. I mean there are examples of both. Some aspects of charter schools are good and others are bad. What I do see is currently the DoE has an over-reliance on charters. Probably because it’s just easier. New schools want to open up— for whatever reason—and charters are there and have some of their own money. It’s in line with the Mayor’s view of unions too, because the schools aren’t unionized. It may turn out to be a great thing for students or it may not be. The political reality though is that the issue has become polarized and essentially dysfunctional. You can’t even have a rational conversation about it anymore. And I think that blame has to be laid squarely at the Mayor’s feet. (In 2009, the state legislature extended the Mayor’s control of the city schools for another six years.) He is entirely re-
for them because they just have to pay whatever to the DoE for their lease and that’s it. (The education advocacy group, Class Size Matters, has a lawsuit pending against the DoE. They found that many of these leases only require the charters to pay $1 annually to operate at the site.) Look, when it comes to education, cookie-cutter should never be the goal. In Red Hook, the community has been complaining that the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy is abusive. I’m wondering what your stance has been on the policy and second your attitude toward recent calls for oversight and probes on the NYPD? I believe Councilman Jumaane Williams, (D—District 45), and State Senator Eric Adams, (D—Senate District 20), have both put out legislation toward that end recently. I signed onto all five of Jumaane’s bills. Essentially, I believe Stop and Frisk is a violation of New Yorker’s civil rights. If data shows that 12 percent of Stop and Frisks found suspects to have nothing on them, and less than 1 percent have weapons, it’s hard to argue that standards are actually being met. And there is no real reason behind so many incidents involving people of color. It’s insulting. But to play devil’s advocate for a minute, if 1 percent of stops found weapons and there were over 600,000 stops last year, that would have removed 6000 weapons from the streets. How do you respond to that? Levin: I’ve talked to a number of police officers whom I respect, and they
City Councilman Steve Levin
say the same thing. But there has got to be a way to do it without violating civil liberties. It’s really obvious to any New Yorker that this is a practice that police use as a matter of course and they aren’t really looking at civil rights. You’re relatively young for a position like the City Council. What have you learned about city politics and New York City in general since earning that position that the average New Yorker of your age might not know? Two things: New York is a lot more like a small town than people might think and that “people power” has an impact. I’d recommend to all young people, if they want to get involved they should have no doubt that they can have an impact. Go to representatives. Go to City Hall; tell the Mayor what you think. I’ve been at rallies on the City Hall steps where the Mayor just happens to walk by. Anyone can go up to him and say, “Hey, this is what we’re saying.” I mean, he might not listen, but you know if you don’t try you can’t get anything done. One last question before you go on activism. I see on your wall, an Occupy Wall Street poster. I’m curious to get your thoughts on the apparent withering of the movement after the police raid on Zuccotti Park. What would you like to see happen? I understand they are planning some events for the spring and moving into the 2012 election. I’d like to see it get back together and get some cohesion. I really hope it comes back together in a permanent way. The cool thing about Occupy Wall Street is that it can break down and get back together without a central encampment. They’ve had a lot of success out of a really improbable situation. It’s a mystery how they had so much success so quickly and then just receded from view. They’ve had an impact on the public discourse and on real policy. Like you wouldn’t have seen the Mayor doing anything on the millionaire’s tax last year if it wasn’t for them. In the president’s speeches, you can hear that language too. I’ll tell you a quick story, I don’t know if you heard this. But at the annual G8 summit in Hawaii, the President was at a dinner and a musician came to play. But the guy was from Occupy so for like 45 minutes, he just sang about the movement over and over. And the whole time the President didn’t stop him. That must mean that he likes it. The Occupy Wall Street movement has to continue to make itself relevant and I’d like to see it develop a real agenda moving forward.
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 9
the Red Hook Star-Revue has a Website!
Where you can subscribe, place a classified ad, submit a press release, get advertising information, write a letter to the editor and view all our back issues!
Page 10 Red Hook Star-Revue
March 16-31, 2012
Kimberly’s Holiday Facts Dept:
that green holiday in march
Americans are known for their drunken debauchery on the feast day of Saint Patrick. Every March 17th, in cities all over the country, hoards of people hit their favorite Irish pub using an Irish tradition as an excuse to consume copious amounts of green beer and Irish whiskey. But who and what are we really celebrating? We take a closer look at the man who inspired this tradition. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually born in Britain around the end of the fourth century. As a teenager he was taken prisoner by Irish invaders and spent six years in captivity in Ireland. There, he found Christianity and later escaped. Instead of eliminating native pagan beliefs, he incorporated their symbols and practices into the Christian religion. He is believed to have died on March 17th around 460 AD. Saint Patrick was known for banishing the snakes in Ireland. The country has always been devoid of snakes, and the legend probably stems from the elimination of Paganism after Christianity arrived. There are almost 35 million Americans that have Irish roots, which is seven times the entire population of Ireland. Over 150,000 U.S residents were born in Ireland. Irish ranks second in ancestry, behind Germany. New York City hosted the first American St. Patty’s Day parade in 1762 when Irish soldiers of the English military marched across Manhattan.
March 16-31, 2012
In 1962, Chicago started dumping 100 pounds of green dye into the river to turn the water green for a week. The unique tradition is still carried on today, with 40 pounds of green food coloring keeping the river green for only a few hours. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. Over 26 billion pounds of corned beef and 2.5 billion pounds of cabbage are sold annually in the United States. The myth of leprechauns comes from the Celtic belief in fairies. they were shoe makers to the other fairies and could use their powers for good or evil. They were cranky little people known for trickery and practical jokes. The original color associated with the saint was blue, not green. The shamrock, a three leafed clover, is worn on the lapel like a badge of honor on the saint’s feast day. Three is a sacred number for the Irish, symbolic of the Holy Trinity. It also represents the past, present and future as well as the sky, the earth and the underworld. The Irish believe that luck comes in threes. The shamrock also represents the renewal of spring. The Blarney Stone is a lucky stone inset in tower of the Blarney Castle. Whoever kisses the stone is blessed with charm and persuasiveness. The magical powers of the Blarney Stone comes from a legend of an old woman who cast a spell to repay a king who saved her from death. Although it is difficult to
reach the stone, tourists from all over the world visit the castle just to kiss the stone. If you are out celebrating St. Paddy’s Day this year, remember the heritage you are commemorating. Raise your glass to the immense history and legend one man spawned, and toast to the Irish all around. May you have warm words on a cold evening, A full moon on a dark night And the road downhill all the way to your door.
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 11
Participatory Budgeting Project A Multimillion Dollar Decision
ouncilman Brad Lander of District 39, along with three other local politicians, wants to know what his community will do with $6 million. In October 2011, the council members met with residents to present information about budgeting and the funds available and to discuss how they would like spending to be distributed within their neighborhoods. More than 1,000 people offered ideas for the project. Volunteers stepped forward to form seven committees and begin working on idea proposals. The funds for Participatory Budgeting were allocated by the council members, (Lander, D-39; Melissa MarkViverito, D-8; Eric Ulrich, D-32; and Jumaane Williams, D-45). The Participatory Budgeting Project is an experimental process being launched in New York for the first time. It allows individuals to decide how a small portion of tax money should be spent. The entire community can participate in the decision. The year-long process began with public meetings to educate citizens on time and resources available for the project, as well as to guide them through the budgeting process. Participatory budgeting was first started in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1989. Since that time, thousands of cities worldwide have tested the pro-
By Kimberly Gail Price gram, but New York is only the sec- community had were answered by the ond city in the country to adopt the volunteers who have been working on the project since mid-October. Posters process, following Chicago’s lead. After the initial meetings in October, and other visual aids were on display delegate orientations began when the to help participants understand each volunteers learned about the budget proposal. Among the twenty proposed process, project development and im- projects are a complete renovation of the Carroll Gardens Library com“Among the twenty proposed projects are a complete renovation of the Carroll Gardens Library community meeting room, a pestand smell-free compost system near the Gowanus Canal that would use food scraps to create rich soil for gardens and parks, bus time countdown clocks and intersection safety improvements at Carroll Street and 3rd Avenue.”
portant spending proposals. The delegates of these newly formed committees began meeting and continued to work towards proposals through February 2012. The initial proposals were transformed into fullblown proposals. Council members provided support, and experts answered questions and guided the process. At the first annual Participatory Budget Expo on March 14, 2012, delegates presented project proposals to the community. Any questions the
munity meeting room, a pest- and smell-free compost system near the Gowanus Canal that would use food scraps to create rich soil for gardens and parks, bus time countdown clocks and intersection safety improvements at Carroll Street and 3rd Avenue. Voting for the Participatory Budget will take place on March 31 and April 1, 2012 at various locations in the districts. After the voting is complete, evaluation, implementation and monitoring will begin in midApril and continue until projects are
completed. Delegates will continue to meet and oversee the completion of the projects. Participatory Budgeting provides equality to each vote, putting the power in the hands of community members by making spending more democratic. Budget decisions are open to the public and generate projects based on community needs. In other areas where this process has been adopted, more responsible and efficient spending decisions are being made, greater civic participation is being inspired and by educating and empowering residents, the entire community is involved. As millions of Americans are expressing disdain about government spending and 89% of the population has lost faith in the government’s financial approach, power is being placed back in the hands of residents who want to see changes in their neighborhoods. For more information on where to vote, visit the Participatory Budgeting website at www.participatorybudgeting.org. All members of the districts are encouraged to vote to decide what projects take priority in various neighborhoods. This is an opportunity for taxpayers to have a say in how their tax dollars can be best spent. Voters must be 18 years or older and live within the districts.
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Page 12 Red Hook Star-Revue
March 16-31, 2012
On Location with imberly & eorge:
Ten Things I Hate Do NOT Like about You Things have been a little stressful lately. With an overload of work, growing tensions and fat-free spoiled milk, we struggled through another couple of weeks. To deal with the dissension, we have decided not to handle this behind slammed shut doors, but to put our dirty laundry on the chopping block.
Kimberly: 1. You’re a boy; you should know what I’m talking about when I make Star Wars references! 2. Stop asking me if you can ask a question! Ask if you can ask two, because you already burned
george: 1. Sometimes I want to keep drinking but you have to go home.
the first one.
2. You get so mad if I forget to put down the toilet seat.
3. Your overwhelming patience in long lines that I have to wait in with you. 4. STOP. TAKING. MY. PICTURE!!!! 5. The glasses all smell like whiskey and I never have a clean one to drink my chocolate milk out
of. 6. Stop asking me if I want coffee. The answer is always yes. Unless I’m asleep. And do not throw it out until the milk in it is spoiled. Even if it is 36 hours old! Yes, I’m still drinking it! 7. And while we’re on the subject, coffee is a food group. So is chocolate. And fried foods too. 8. My favorite color is NOT your favorite color. Pick your own!!! 9. Does the recently used gas can REALLY have to ride in the backseat?!? Is the Star-Revue REALLY more important than my brain cells?!? 10. You made me make this stupid list.
3. You think you’re prettier than me. 4. You let me play the car radio at full blast; everybody else makes me turn it down. 5. Stop calling me the janitor. I’m not just the janitor. 6. You like John Denver but not Django Reinhardt. 7. You never want to go out to hear music at 3 am. 8. You like crayons more than you like me. 9. Even after working a 20-hour shift you still have to leave your desk perfectly organized and
spotless. 10. Kimberly always turns out to be right in the end. When will it be my turn?
Say one nice thing about George:
Say one nice thing about Kimberly:
I like the way he smells after he eats cookies.
Last Issue Answers
To Be American By Christina Quistgaard Immigrants risk their lives To be American Having to say good bye Having the courage to Leave their families behind Not seeing loved ones for a long, long time Wanting a better life
1. Last issue’s destination 8. Shop on Van Brunt 15. Red Hook used to have lots of these 16. Diligent 17. A connecting fold of membrane 18. Known for pulled pork 19.` Big dictionary 20. A bastardized word describing a dealer in Vegas 21. Southern state 24. Snaffle bit for horse 27. Victim 30. Where it’s _____ 31. Syphilis. 32. He was here 34. Chemical compound 35. They have peaches 36. Served at Rocky Sullivan’s 37. Written at the Pave academy 38. suffix used with movements. 40. Part of Madonna song 41. LICH worker 42. _____ of the Sun, Grateful Dead LP. 43. Lower part of a ship. 46. These knights were in Monty Python 47. Movie roles for star of other movies 48 Describing time. 53. _____ Baixas, a place in Spain 54. Exclamation. 57. Town in NY, city in Italy. 58. Places to get cash. 59. Ship_____, was once where Ikea is now. 60. Sometimes one throws it in. 61. A place where the bathing suits are skimpy. 64. When and where you can find a great deal in the special floor model room to the right of the cash registers at this Red Hook
To help their loved ones who are in need
This poem is inspired by a Loved one
March 16-31, 2012
Because this is where everyone wants to be
She shares her Popeye’s chicken (that I buy for her) with me.
2 Not-Quite Words
To be American
There must be something wonderful about America
(photo by Matt Graber)
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.` 9. 10. 11. 12.
Peggy is the principal here Moby Grape founder put our this great solo album First George once headed it Once thought better than butter. Not any. Toward the mouth Security abbr. Musical compositions Hillbilly way of spelling this phone. To be necessary Part of a lobster City in France
13. _____ Bucco, get it in an Italian Restaurant 14. Former name for woman 22. A young woman 23. Falconworks celebrates this 25. They eat this in the Orient 27. Going ___ 28. Kind of transmission 29. A prickly plant with a blue flower 32. Fashion magazine 33. A bunch of players 36. Wishbone ____ 39. These workers are protesting Saturday at the GPA 40. A cousin in the Addams Family.
43. ______ and Tackle 44. Islamic leader 45. Perceive 46. Old Radio Shack operating system 47. A new restaurant soon to open across from Fairway will sell these 49. Not amateur 50. To dip 51. Moon communication 52. Joe Cocker sang a song about this lady 55. To hurt 56. Great Lake 60. Tit for ___ 61. ___ times
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 13
PA spokesman talks to CB6 committee by Kimberly Gail Price
n Monday, March 5, 2012, the Economic Waterfront Community Development and Housing Committee held its monthly meeting at Red Hook Initiative. A presenter from Port Authority, Brian Simon, spoke vaguely about the happenings on the Brooklyn waterfront. Three other representatives from Port Authority, all coincidentally named John, were also in attendance, though the meeting was led by Simon. The three others were only called upon to assist in answering questions that ultimately Port Authority was either unable or unwilling to answer. The meeting began with a breakdown of each pier, (Piers 1-12), and their main function on the waterfront. The Proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park Development was depicted in a rather brief slideshow, increasing the optimism of the people who have so long hoped for this kind of development there. Pier 7, leased by Phoenix Beverages was discussed, citing their 20 year lease and more than 250 employees. Phoenix Beverages also leases Pier 11 from EDC. NYCEDC Cruise Terminal is at Pier 12 and Port Authority is hoping to make the $56 million activity more diverse. Shore power, the ongoing topic of discussion about this being a viable option, was also discussed in brief detail. The $19.3 million project would route power through a duct bank allowing docked vessels to shut down their pollution causing engines and rely on a substation to provide power while in
the port. Port Authority claims that $15 million has been promised for the project, while the other $4.3 million is still pending approval. Simon spoke eagerly of the options and reduction of harmful pollutants to the area, but was unable to comment on whether or not shore power would be more cost effective. However, according to a later post by City Councilman Brad Lander on the Columbia Waterfront District Neighborhood Association webpage, Port Authority may be back pedaling from their original decision. “The Port Authority Board of Commissioners has raised questions about the cost of bringing shore power to the Red Hook Cruise Terminal—something they committed to by a vote of their board last year. He went on to say, “I am joining forces with other local elected officials to insist that the Port Authority live up to the commitment that it made to us last year, and that shore power move forward without delay.” The future of the Red Hook Container Terminal, still in jeopardy over U.S. Custom’s decision to discontinue cargo inspections at this location, was defined by Simon as a “public safety nightmare.” The U.S. government is currently reexamining their initial decision to close Customs as local politicians and stakeholders push to make the 90 day stay permanent. Simon stated that the decision “has not yet been made public,” but that “the economic loss if we lose CBP, (Customs Border Patrol), would be severe.” He also urged Community
Spokesperson Brian Simon listens as Judi Sloane explains to him the history of Brooklyn Bridge Park (photo by George Fiala)
Board 6 to write a letter to CBP stressing the importance of value and safety of the $3.8 billion port. Spokesperson for Congress woman Nydia Velazquez, Dan Wiley, also commented on ongoing meetings in Washington noting that there is “a sense that [CBP] is taking this seriously,” and that they “must invest to keep the waterfront viable.” Simon agreed, stating that Port Authority has spent an “inordinate amount of time in the last few weeks” convincing Customs of its importance in Red Hook. Simon spoke next of the Port Authority’s Truck Replacement Program, outlining progress that has already been made and the standards they will continue to improve over the next 15 years. The project is being funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), with Port Authority providing another $25.7 million to phase out older, less efficient
trucks. They have already replaced 198 old trucks with newer trucks that have a much smaller impact on the air quality. Port Authority is using a “truck phase out program,” which began January 1, 2011. Trucks with engine models older than 1993 are denied access to the port. The phase out program will continue through January 1, 2017, when trucks with engines built before 2007 will not be allowed into the Port Authority Marine Terminal. Many residents asked questions that were left unanswered. A rep from Port Authority, who remained mostly silent except when called upon, took notes, and Simon promised follow up. Questions about future projects, impacts and statistics were posed, but no in depth information was made available. As of print time, even the Star-Revue’s inquiries have been left unanswered, despite our requests for additional information.
We are across from Coffey Park (718) 923-9880
Page 14 Red Hook Star-Revue
March 16-31, 2012
Juried BWAC show opens Sunday the 18th
by Elizabeth Graham
or its third annual juried show, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition left the door wide open for artists, literally. “Wide Open 3” is a continuation of the group’s focus on the limitless interpretation of being open to anything and everything.
stuff. It’s fun and active,” Strohbeen said.
The work included in this year’s show delves into “openness” with a palpable energy, and shares one similarity – diversity.
“It depicts a very wide open space,” he said of “Working Man’s Blues 3.”
“You name it we got it, just about,” John Strohbeen, president of BWAC, said. “The techniques, styles, mediums, and materials they use, it certainly demonstrates the creativity of today’s artists.” Curator, Charlotta Kotik of the Brooklyn Museum, received 1,700 submissions for the show from across the United States, finally selecting 134 pieces. Paintings, drawings and photography are represented in the show, along with other two and three-dimensional works including video, installations and an acoustic piece that alters sounds visitors hear as they make their way around the gallery. “It’s a very high energy show because of the diversity; it’s not a bunch of baroque
Red Hook painter and BWAC member Richard Rosenblatt, a longtime resident of Hicks Street, said he’d stood at the bus stop on Van Brunt and Van Dyke countless times before acting on his urge to paint the landscape there.
He is strongly pro-union as I am, but his views do reveal his lack of knowledge on how most powerful unions operate. When he speaks of countervailing powers within these unions, he is referring to labor leaders as concentrating on their union growing strong and using this strength to offset the power of a greater singular power. As a person who has spent my life working in the hierarchy of union management, let me assure Mr. Racioppo that the age of Sir Gallahad Union Leaders is long past. The downfall of the unions can be directly attributed to the greed and corruption
Three years ago, when BWAC was organizing its first juried show, its members held lengthy discussions over whether to select a particular theme or allow artists to choose what sort of work to submit. Most people involved preferred to leave submission criteria wide open, leading to a long-standing theme that has resulted in distinctive shows each year.
“It’s my feelings about the closing of the factories and the changing of the landscape,” Rosenblatt said. “The man in the painting is almost like the last lone straggler. It’s almost like the sun setting on a particular era.” He titled the painting “Working Man’s Blues 3” to form a third link in a chain created by an old blues song called “Working Man’s Blues” and Bob Dylan’s “Working Man’s Blues 2.”
“Our gallery space can accommodate small and very large pieces, and that encourages people to present all kinds of mediums,” Strohbeen said.
BWAC member Richard Rosenblatt is exhibiting at the upcoming show curated by Brooklyn Museum’s Charlotta Kotik
tries? It would seem they just sat around and watched the slow deterioration of the American work force.
(send yours to email@example.com)
Mr. Racioppo is obviously a learned man. His opinion column is well written and sometimes interesting. But I wonder if he should be using it to further his own political preferences when he is so passionately one sided in his view points?
“It shows that Brooklyn artists are above average,” Strohbeen said.
The piece is his reaction to changes in the neighborhood that are mirroring the national landscape. The oil painting shows a factory on Van Dyke, its smokestack rising high into the sky with a lone man walking away from the building as shadows lengthen on the street.
Rosenblatt’s painting is among the work of several BWAC members to be included in the show, which Kotik juried using an anonymous system to be sure that her selections were based completely on the work’s merit.
modern day unions have allowed to infiltrate a once proud profession. And most of this was allowed because nearly all the rank and file members had been just as greedy in their own way, mimicking the activities of their own leaders. How many times do we still read of labor leaders being indicted for criminal mischief and all forms of pilfering, be it pension funds or other union treasures tapped illegally by these pseudo leaders? I’m afraid Mr. Racioppo is living in the past with his views of grandeur on the part of today’s unions. These unions have effectively sealed their own fate. It will take many years before they can regain the respect and admiration once held by the American public for them.
While manufacturing in Detroit and other big cities closes down, they show no hope of ever experiencing revival again to the extent we once knew. Both Democrats and Republicans bear the responsible for this chaotic situation. Our President, Barack Obama, is not alone; he shares the responsibility equally. He
“Wide Open 3” opens March 18 and will run through April 1 at BWAC’s gallery at 499 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook. The free show is open weekends from 12 – 5p.m. For more information visit bwac.org. is without a doubt a President of broken promises. His words have become meaningless for the American taxpaying, working class. It will take more than one election to straighten out this mess. —JJ Burkard The Red Hook Star-Revue regrets the omission of Bill Gonzales’ name as the author of last issue article about Sacred Hearts and St. Steven church that appeared on page seven.
As to our politians? With all our job planning and spending tons of money towards creating these jobs without success, how many lifted a finger to stem the relocation of jobs to other coun-
Editorial: Last week’s monthly meeting of the 76th Precinct Community Council was notable for both the turnout and the heartfelt stories about alleged mistreatment at the hands of local police officers as Captain Jack Lewis patiently listened, as reported in front page story. All of this comes in the backdrop of the current national controversy of stop and frisk and some other highly used police practices. This paper lauds the existence of the council, which offers a forum to the public with a pipeline to the captain. We do have one suggestion though, which is that it might be helpful to invite some of the citizens who spoke out to repeat their stories in a private meeting with all the assembled officers. We remember watching the Streets of San Francisco where there were daily meetings where all officers attended, so we assume that such a meeting could take place here as well. We were impressed with the evenhandedness and calm way in which the complaints were presented as well as listened to. A good number of the attendees are also attendees of the Occupy Red Hook movement led by Reg Flowers, and we commend his leadership
March 16-31, 2012
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 15
St. Joseph - the patron saint of bakery chefs
cannot say we never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in our predominantly Italian home back in the sixties. It was, after all, the conventional and American thing to do, right? And so we did, at the insistence of my mother who was the lover and orchestrator of holidays between my parents. My father, the “foodie” of our home, was designated to pick up the corned beef, something he contended with since he wasn’t really keen on the idea of tough, brined meat that needed hours of cooking to tenderize; but he did it for my mother’s passion to honor the “Irish.” We, the children, went along with the holiday, enjoying the abundance of potatoes in particular, not really knowing who St. Patrick was except that he represented the “Irish.” Forty or fifty years later, if one thinks of it in real terms - in retrospect or not most people probably still only have a vague idea of who he really is because St. Patrick’s Day is primarily perceived to be a commemoration of a heritage as opposed to the holy works of a saint during his life here on earth. He is a wonderful reason to celebrate Irish life and has managed to make a national party day here in America to prove it - the biggest around apparently - because on the occasion of my one and only visit to see the parade, along with a journey to an Irish Pub for beers, I was told by an entire soccer team from Ireland that they flew to New York purposely to celebrate St. Patty’s Day since there was no such festivities back home! Having said that, I have to admit, I was in my forties at the time, the pub thing was a “trip.”
Saint Joseph’s Day In our home, just two days beyond the infamous March 17th date of the blarney stone, we were celebrating St. Joseph’s Day, a relatively unknown holiday to most other people of American descent. It is an Italian tradition to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, but it is also tradition to the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Polish, among others. We all know he was the spouse of the Virgin Mary, the foster father of Jesus and a carpenter. An almost non-existent voice in the Gospels, he is said to have been a silent man of action showing qualities of being faithful, patient and obedient to God, willingly accepting of hardships and a great protector and provider of his family. That’s impressive, but he is also credited to be the patron saint of workers and pastry chefs, a lucky symbol for selling a home. He was the saint who interceded the prayers of thousands of Sicilians during a terrible drought in the middle ages and believed to have delivered the much
Picture of St. Joseph’s Day Pastries from Monteleone’s on Court Street (between Union and President Streets). The Sfige (pictured right) is the original Sicilian St. Joseph’s Day Pasty. The Zeppole (pictured left) is another version of the pastry
Page 16 Red Hook Star-Revue
by Mary Anne Pietanza
needed rain to their thirsty land. The latter is the ultimate reason that Sicilians honor him, in thanks for his intercession in bringing relief to their hunger. Their promises of creating a banquet of food in his honor, incorporating much of the crops and grains he restored for them and sharing them among the people, is the tradition that has grown throughout Italy and to America until now. A three-tiered
the Zeppole. Typically the choux pastry part is either baked or fried and shaped for each one accordingly. Their fillings may contain custard, pastry cream, or even sweetened ricotta. They are decorated on top with a bright red maraschino cherry, though I’ve seen them with a red cross, too, because red is the symbolic color for St. Joseph. Each bakery has its tried and true versions and as Italians we all have “our
“It is an Italian tradition to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, but it is also tradition to the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Polish” table (representing the Holy Trinity) of these foods is referred to as the “altar,” presides by his statue at the helm and carries this tradition to its fullest, with the fava bean being the most sacred food. In the interest of honesty, I cannot say that I knew all of this about him when I was a young girl in Red Hook, deliciously licking my fingers of the cannoli cream filling of the symbolic St. Joseph’s Day pastries. I say this despite being taught by the Order of the Sisters of you guessed it - St. Joseph. To our family he was foremost a namesake, as are most of the saints in the Italian Roman Catholic Church. There was always cause for celebration of one’s saint’s namesake, but St. Joseph was most revered and just about the only one who had pastries baked and named for him specially - in just about every Italian bakery in existence. (In Brooklyn that was equivalent to just about all of its many churches.) For us, it was Monteleone’s in the original Red Hook section on the other side of the highway on Columbia Street off of Union. That would be the Columbia Waterfront District I now presume. Back then, Monteleone’s (my sister and I believe after a lengthy discussion) was located where newcomers to the area may know until recently that there was a sandwich place called Fultummy’s. As I said, my mother was the holiday keeper in our home, and the celebration of the namesake was most important to her. Although, in our immediate fivemember family there were no Josephs, she did have a brother (Uncle Joe) and a brother-in-law (Zio Giuseppe). It was in their honor that our table was, for once, graced with sweets. Our usual dessert, not that we referred to it as dessert, was fruit. So this was indeed a treat, especially if it was a weeknight. (Later, upon becoming close friends with Sicilians, the Cataldos, my own family - with two Joseph namesakes - have been the lucky recipients of being dinner guests at their St. Joseph’s table for several years now. I guess because our roots stemmed from the regions of Puglia and Lazio, not Sicily, and maybe because some tradition tends to get lost when immigrating, the St. Joseph’s Day meal was a missing component in our home. Their customary minestrone and bread with seeds, symbolizing saw dust from a carpenter, are favorites of mine. But we didn’t know what we were missing back then because the focus in the neighborhood, a largely Molese population from Puglia, was the pastries. There are two basic types: the Sfinge and
bakery” that we think makes them best, something that hasn’t changed through the years. The owners of Monteleone’s have most definitely clarified that the Sfinge is the original Sicilian St. Joseph’s Day pastry; always filled with cannoli cream, its pastry shell shaped more like a hallowed-out half potato. The Zeppole is a later version that is round-shaped, split in half and filled with custard. My personal weakness is the Sfinge, for sure. If I can get back to the sixties here, I remember this holiday started about two weeks before the actual March 19th birth date of St. Joseph with a trip to the card shop on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street. There was a Hallmark Card Shop there that my mother insisted was the only place to buy a genuine, qualitymade greeting card. And, of course, they had St. Joseph’s cards in English and Italian. These cards were lovingly written out by my mother to her two “Joes” and mailed within enough time, to arrive for St. Joseph’s Day. She did this for my grandmother, too. If I knew my mother well, and I think I did, she was probably making a few visits to Monteleone’s in between to enjoy the pastries even before we got them on their official day! She loved these pastries with a passion. Since her friend, Dolly, worked there, it was certainly justifiable to have a reason to go there and indulge. When my sister and I came home from school and took a peek in the refrigerator and found that huge Monteleone’s cake box sitting in sweet abandon waiting for its unveiling, we could care less about anything else. Every delicious thought of flavor the pastries lured our eyes with when they came out of the box came to full fruition in our mouths, never letting us down. A large pot of coffee sat percolating on the stove top, consuming the kitchen and the apartment with its fullbodied, roasted aroma. As we all picked and fingered our pastries, challenging ourselves to let the moment last as long as possible, my mother relayed old tales of the two uncles, not local, in colorful and animated ways. This modest, but special tradition continued throughout my mother’s lifetime and became much more celebratory when I married a Joseph and then, named my first born Joseph. With four Josephs in one family, she was in her glory! Upon receiving his first St. Joseph’s Day card, my husband, being of Irish descent, was taken aback, yet touched. Not one for heavy creams or sweets, he still proudly partook in his namesake’s honoring with
Statue of St. Joseph as it stands in St. Stephen’s Church on Hicks and Summit
the pastries, especially enjoying all the fuss my mother made over him when we were living in the apartment beneath hers for several years after we were married in the late seventies. When my son was born, the St. Joseph’s Day cards to him, as he grew older, contained a five dollar bill wrapped in foil, a special treat he looked forward to each year. Our hearts full with the loss of our mother, my sister and I continue the tradition for her, sending cards to the uncles or anyone else since added to the roster of Josephs. We still go back to the neighborhood to pick up the pastries. I personally wish she was around to enjoy the full celebration of the meal with the Cataldos, who occasionally bake their own pastries, an added bonus. A while ago, I remember learning that St. Joseph’s Day is actually an official Father’s Day in Italy, something that my father never shared, possibly because it was his way of focusing on his new American holidays. Once, when Monteleone’s (of the current Court Street location) was closed for renovations some years ago, I opted to buy the pastries from Court Street Bakery (between Degraw & Sackett). I have to say, they came in a close second. And on the occasion of my first St. Joseph’s Day dinner at the Cataldos on Long Island, about twelve of us actually sat around the table devilishly taste testing the differences between the “Brooklyn” pastries and the “Long Island” pastries - comparing the textures, color, smoothness of the creams, the lightness or density of the dough, the sugar’s absolute “rightness,” and their freshness. We tackled each other with raised voices to get our assessments heard amongst the melange of agreements, disagreements, and arguments! My God, it was truly “una bordello” (a riot)! But there’s nothing new about that. With Italians, it always comes down to a contest of food. Trust me, we don’t need a holiday to do that, but a holiday always helps!
Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Buona Festa di San Giuseppe! March 16-31, 2012
Erik drinks too much researching St. Patty’s Day by Erik Penney, photos by Elizabeth Graham Angry Wade’s
We turned up to Smith Street on somewhat doddering feet now, and I really wished we had ordered the pulled pork nachos at P.J. Hanley’s. I’m no amateur myself, mind you, but we still had a rather lengthy agenda to complete and I didn’t want anything to short-circuit our plans. I was fast getting drunk and afraid that this review would turn into a Hunter S. Thompson novel if I didn’t either slow down, (not likely), or get more food into my stomach.
Rocky Sullivan’s made the trek from Manhattan to Red Hook as a move to survive a huge rent increase; they have now become a Red Hook fixture a few blocks from Ikea
t should be noted that St. Patrick’s Day is a day that I usually avoid. I avoid the bars, which are always packed to the rafters with drunk amateurs wearing cheesy green plastic hats and beads, swilling green beer and chugging Irish car bombs until their stomachs can hold no more, only to turn the sidewalks outside the bars into Iraqi minefields of puke. I was to do a pub crawl through the neighborhood, tracing a route to identify some of the likely spots that might see some action this Saturday.
Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook
One of the more valuable lessons I learned in college is if you’re planning on drinking for the long haul, prepping for an all-day booze fest, one needs to prepare your stomach for the chemical onslaught that it’s about to face. Or at least that’s the logic in the infinite wisdom of the 20 year-old college student brain. Rocky Sullivan’s is a corner bar on the waterfront in Red Hook with serious Irish-American creed, a great roof deck and a friendly neighborhood vibe. We decided to start our journey with pints of Guinness and Rocky Sullivan’s signature brick oven pizza. The Guinness was perfect. Cool, (not cold), temperature and poured properly in two stages to allow the head to set up properly. It’s rich and creamy, almost like chocolate or coffee, and so much like a food product that I’m going to mentally count this towards the basebuilding part of the afternoon, rather than the drinking part. Rocky Sullivan’s pizza is not Irish in the least, but perfect for its stomach insulating properties. Its base-building properties were tested immediately with three pints of Guinness for each of us and a shot of Jameson’s.
At this point we all felt great – still nearly sober and convinced that our pizza insulation trick would carry us into the night, allowing us to drink vast quantities of beer and unlimited shots-that we’d feel absolutely no ill-effects the following day. The sun was shining and the day felt full of limitless possibilities. What a great gig I had, writing about the good times I had eating and drinking with friends! We stopped at P.J. Hanley’s on lower Court Street next, partly because we felt like we had the liver constitutions to stop at every bar in the neighborhood, but also because we felt drawn by the St. Patrick’s Day banner hanging outside. Their St. Patty’s Day party starts at 10am (10am!!!) on Saturday with an Irish breakfast buffet brunch. I switched to Black and Tans at P.J. Hanley’s, and our bartender did a fine job of managing the Guinness and Bass separation. We didn’t order any food, which might have been a mistake in hindsight, because once one of my friends started chatting up the cute bartender any chance of leaving soon went right out the window. Two beers turned quickly into four, Jameson’s shots were ordered, and then re-ordered, and at this point I lost track of how many drinks I had between Rocky’s and here, and I started to worry that my delicate balance of food and booze might start tilting in the wrong direction. After my buddy got shot down by the bartender, we decided to head to our next stop.
Rocky Sullivan’s, incidentally, will be having live music on St. Patty’s Day beginning at 4 pm with Scottish import Stephen Dodds and continuing into the night Bartender Scarlett Wilson holds a beer at with Seanchai and the Unity Squad. Angry Wade’s
March 16-31, 2012
I felt torn between doing the right thing and ordering a burger and keeping some room in my stomach for what lay ahead. I split the difference, ordered fries and we put a serious dent in the free popcorn wagon. There was excellent classic rock blaring out of the jukebox and lots of kids belly-up to the bar watching college basketball. In the middle of all this we had uncounted beers from Angry Wade’s generous menu. Things got dangerous when we saw the chalkboard behind the bar with their list of scotches and whiskeys. The shots started flowing as fast as the beers, the music and the voices in the room started to blur together into a form of white bar noise. We felt great, boozy and warm, and the pizza we had earlier had been long forgotten, much to my stomach’s dismay. Every bar at this point seemed like the greatest bar in the world. We thought we could have easily stayed at Angry Wade’s until we collapsed, but we had miles to go before we slept.
We were properly blasted by now. We walked in the sunshine past open restaurant storefronts, past bodegas where we strained to resist buying bags of chips or Twinkies or Slim Jims that seemed the perfect way to round out our liquid afternoon. Every bar beckoned, I had to pull my friends away from every Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign in every window, until we turned onto Atlantic Avenue and finally got to Chip Shop.
my family Thanksgiving dinner this year. It went downhill fast from there. I ordered some chips, (french fries), curry sauce, and a side of haggis, which is the stomach of a sheep stuffed with every disreputable innard conceived by the mind of the most sadistic butcher in all creation, and then simmered or steamed for hours. The chips and curry were fantastic. The haggis must be an acquired taste. It’s got all the overwhelming earthy funk that organ meats have in spades, both in smell and in taste. I alternated slathering mustard and malt vinegar and hot sauce on mine to mask the aroma, but it did no good. I looked at my buddies and they were pointing and laughing in seeming slow-motion, and I think there were side bets as to whether or not I would finish the haggis, or possibly whether I could hold it down. I didn’t finish but I did, however, hold it down. We had to get out of there, so we settled our bill, but not before ordering some deep-fried chocolates for the road. After the haggis ordeal, after one bite of a deep-fried Snickers bar, all was forgiven. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it didn’t stop after a Snickers. I also got a deep-fried Twix. If you’ve never had something like this, if you listen to nothing I say or write in this column, please listen to this… try it. This is truly the way a candy bar is supposed to be enjoyed. I thank the Chip Shop for providing the cement that held everything in my poor stomach together, at least for the walk home.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Chip Shop has at least a dozen mostly British beers on tap and at least two dozen different kinds of whiskeys and scotches, though at this point all of my recollections are seen through the gauzy haze of several hours worth of serious drinking. The notes I had been taking in my notebook had degenerated into a laughable, illegible scrawl, and my comments from this stage were, in hindsight, utterly useless, (“this place is awesome” wouldn’t pass muster in this paper.) A pint glass of something dark and malty was put in front of me and I drank it, me being at this point a very passive player in the alcohol-ordering game. I didn’t care what I drank, I needed food, and I needed it fast. Full of beer-fueled bravado, (or stupidity), I ordered the English classic, steak and kidney pie. The gravy… I remember the gravy inside this thing and it was miraculous. Soft crust, meat inside… that’s all I needed. I think I promised myself to make something like this for
Angry Wade’s on Smith Street
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 17
Star-Revue Restaurant Guide Red Hook
BAKED 359 Van Brunt St., (718)222-0345. THE BROOKLYN ICE HOUSE 318 Van Brunt St., (718) 222-1865. Botanica 220 Conover St (at Coffey St), (347) 225-0147. DEFONTE’S SANDWICH SHOP 379 Columbia St., (718) 855-6982. DIEGO’S RESTAURANT 116 Sullivan St., (718) 625-1616. F&M BAGELS 383 Van Brunt St., (718) 855-2623. FORT DEFIANCE 365 Van Brunt St., (347) 453-6672. THE GOOD FORK 391 Van Brunt St., (718) 643-6636. HOME/MADE 293 Van Brunt St., (347) 223-4135. HOPE & ANCHOR 347 Van Brunt St., (718) 237-0276.
JAKE’S BAR-B-QUE RESTAURANT 189 Columbia St., (718) 522-4531.
Em Thai Kitchen, 278 Smith Street, (718) 834-0511
Prime Meats, 465 Court Street, 718254-0327 or 0345,
KOTOBUKI BISTRO 192 Columbia St., (718) 246-7980.
Enotica on Court, 347 Court Street, (718) 243-1000
Palmyra, 316 Court street, 718-7971110
LILLA CAFE 126 Union St., (718) 8555700.
F Line Bagels, 476 Smith Street (718) 422-0001
Red Rose Restaurant, 315 Smith Street, (718) 625-0963
MAZZAT 208 Columbia St., (718) 8521652.
Five Guys, 266 Court St., 347-799-2902
Sals Pizza, 305 Court Street, (718) 852-6890
PETITE CREVETTE 144 Union St., (718) 855-2632. Sugar Lounge, 147 Columbia Street, 718 643-2880 TEEDA THAI CUISINE 218 Columbia St., (718) 643-2737.
Carroll Gardens/ Cobble Hill Abilene, 442 Court Street, 718-5226900,
Fragole, 394 Court Street, (718) 6227133 Francesco’s Restaurant, 531 Henry Street, (718) 834-0863
Sam’s Restaurant, 238 Court Street, 718-596-3458Savoia, 277 Smith Street, 718-797-2727
Frank’s Luncheonette, Smith Street, (718) 875-5449
Seersucker Restaurant, 329 Smith Street, (718) 422-0444
Ghang, 229 Court Street, 718-875-1369
Smith & Vine, 268 Smith Street (718) 243-2864
Gowanus Yacht Club, 323 Smith Street, (718) 246-132,Closed til spring Hana cafe, 235 Smith Street, (718) 643-1963 Le Petite Cafe, 502 Court street, 718596-7060
IKEA One Beard St., (718) 246-4532.
Angry Wades, 222 Smith Street, (718) 488-7253
John & Franks, 367 Columbia Street, (718) 797-4467
Bar Bruno, 520 Henry St., 347-7630850,
KEVIN’S 277 Van Brunt St., (718) 5968335.
Bagels by the park, 323 Smith Street, (718) 246-1321
MARK’S PIZZA 326 Van Brunt St., (718) 624-0690.
Bar great harry, 280 Smith Street (718) 222-1103
New Lin’s Garden Restaurant 590 Clinton Street, (718) 399-1166
Bombay Dream, 257 Smith Street (718) 237-6490
RED HOOK LOBSTER POUND 284 Van Brunt St., (646) 326-7650.
Bourgeois Pig, 387 Court Street, (718) 858-5483
ROCKY SULLIVAN’S 34 Van Dyke St., (718) 246-8050.
Brooklyn Bread Cafe, 436 Court Street (718) 403-0234
Oaxaca Tacos, 251 Smith Street (718) 222-1122
Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie, 204 Van Dyke St, (718) 852-6018
Buddy’s Burrito & Taco Bar, 260 Court Street, 718-488-8695,
Osaca Restaurant, 272 Court Street (718) 643-0055
Buttermilk channel, 524 Court Street (718) 852-8490
P J Hanleys, 449 Court St, 718- 843-8223
Sunny’s Bar in Red HOok, 253 Conover Street, (718) 625-8211
Columbia Waterfront District
Chestnut, 271 Smith St., (718) 2430049
ALMA 187 Columbia St., (718) 643-5400. Bagel Boy Cafe 75 Hamilton Ave next to Chase, (718) 855-0500. CALEXICO CARNE ASADA Union St., (718) 488-8226.
Casa Rosa, 384 Court Street, 718-7971907
Casa Di Campagna 117 Columbia Street (718) 237-4300. CASELNOVA 214 Columbia St., (718) 522-7500. FERNANDO’S FOCACCERIA RESTAURANT 151 Union St., (718)855-1545. HOUSE OF PIZZA & CALZONES 132 Union St., (718) 624-9107.
cobble grill, 212 Degraw Street, (718) 422-0099 Cobble Hill Coffee Shop, 314 Court Street, (718) 852-1162 Cody’s Ale House Grill, 154 Court Street, 718-852,6115 Court Street Grocers, 485 Court Street, (718) 722-7229 Crave, 570 Henry Street, (718) 643-0361 Cubana Cafe, 272 Smith Street (718) 718-858-3980 Downtown Bar & Grill, 160 Court street, 718-625-2835 Dubuque, 548 Court Street, (718) 5963248
Ling Ling Young, 508 Henry Street, (718) 260-9095 Marco Polo Ristorante, 345 Court Street, 718 852-5015 Mama Maria’s Restaurant, 307 Court Street, (718) 246-2601 Mezcals Restaurant, 522 Court Street, 718-783-3276 Natures Grill, 138 Court street, 718852,5100,
South Brooklyn Pizza, 451 Court Street, 718 852-6018 Stinky Brooklyn, 261 Smith Street, 718 522-7425 Sweet Melissa, 276 Court Street, (718) 855-3410 Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens, 295 Smith Street, 718 875-5600 Vinny’s Pizzeria, 455 Court Street, 718 596-9342 Vino y Tapas, 520 Court Street, 718407-0047 Vinzee’s, 412 Court Street, 718 855 1401 Zaytoons, 283 Smith Street, 718 875-1880
Nine-D, 462 Court Street, 718-488-8998,
Gowanus Michael and Pings, 437 Third Avenue, (718) 788-0017
Palo Cortado, 520 Court St, 718407-0047
The Red Hook Star-Revue Salutes Red Hook Youth! We are now accepting ongoing artwork submissions to be published in the paper.
Please submit your drawing, painting or any other creation to: The Red Hook Star-Revue 101 Union Street Brooklyn, NY 11231 Ages 5-17 only. All artwork will be returned upon request. For more information, call (718) 624-5568 and ask for Kimberly or George. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org
Now Open Mondays 5-10:30!
Hours: Noon to 10:30 pm Tues. to Thurs. Noon to 11pm Friday. 4pm to 11pm Saturday & 4pm to 10:30pm Sunday.
Page 18 Red Hook Star-Revue
March 16-31, 2012
Star-Revue Classifieds Help Wanted Freelance Writers: The Red Hook Star-Revue is looking for freelance writers for both the arts and news sections. We want to buttress our news as well as local theater and arts coverage. Email Kimberly@ redhookstar.com Outside Salesperson: The Red Hook Star-Revue seeks an ambitious person who likes to walk, talk and make friends in the neighborhood to sell display advertising. Commission to start - work around your hours, no pressure. Call 718 624-5568 and speak to Kimberly or George. Hair Dresser with Following. Licensed hairdresser needed for huge opportunity in very modern and elegant Van Brunt Street Salon. Opposite PS 15. Call Nayda at 718 935-0596 for more details.
Neighborhood Services Laundry Service
DELVAN DROP-OFF SERVICE
289 Columbia St. (at Summit) 718 797-1600 • Laundry, Dry Cleaning & Alterations • Laundry done same day!! • Regular Dry Cleaning in 2 days!! FREE Pick-up and Delivery www.delvandropoff.com
StarRevue Ads Work
Real Estate - Apts. $3500 / 1br - 1000ft² - Top Floor Duplex, Mezzanine and Private Front Terrace! Pets Welcome! Building just two years old, green construction; nothing else like it around.Apartment is 1000 sf, has a duplex sleeping/office area, Manhattan views, and 20 x 15 front terrace. It is a combination of polished concrete floors that are heated, maple cabinetry with white marble countertop, bamboo surrounds, glass and brick trims. Top floor, quiet and tranquil, this is the Columbia Waterfront!! This is No Fee, By Owner; just $20 credit check per person applies.One year lease available, must provide income and financials, must have goodcredit. Pet friendly building! Brokers welcome. Available March/April. Call for appointment. 917-578-1991. Debbie Buscarello, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Coldwell Banker Reliable,7428 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209 (917) 578-1991
COOL HAND MOVERS Friendly local guys that can relocate your life, or just shlep your new couch from Ikea. We’ll show up on time, in a truck or van if necessary, and basically kick ass -- you might even have a good time! Call for a free estimate at (917) 584-0334 or email at email@example.com Customer reviews on YELP.COM
For Expert Real Estate Advice in Red Hook, Sunset Park and Carroll Gardens.
Associate Broker Direct: 718-361-9304 Main: 718-786-5050 x 245 firstname.lastname@example.org
New HeigHts CoNstruCtioN LLC
The Red Hook Star-Revue now publishes twice a month - classified advertising is one of the best and least expensive ways to get your message across. Special yearly contracts available for service businesses such as plumbers, electricians for as little as $500 annually. Email Kimberly at email@example.com or call 718 624-5568
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siding • Windows • Roofing • Fences • Kitchens • Painting • Baths • Basements • Decks • Doors • Awnings • Patio Enclosures • Brick Pointing • Concrete Stucco Visit our online showroom www.newheightsConstructionny.com
800-525-5102 718-767-0044 DEBORAH BUSCARELLO Licensed RE Salesperson REALTOR© (917) 578-1911 CELL (718) 921-3100 OFFICE (347) 710-3453 EFAX firstname.lastname@example.org
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EMERGENCY SERVICE 137 King Street Brooklyn, NY 11231 Fax: (718) 935-0887
Vito Liotine (718) 625-1995 (718) 625-0867 email@example.com
Each Office is Independently Owned & Operated.
Columbia waterfront developer brings passiv housing to area (continue from page 8)
“I was living in the warehouse and saw what the developer did there, and I thought ‘hey I can do that.’ It looked easier than it was, I had to learn a lot, sometimes you get some real painful learning experiences,” he said. No job too big or too small
Toilets, Boilers, Heating, Faucets, Hot Water Heaters, Pool Heaters.
B & D Heating 507 Court Street 718 625-1396
March 16-31, 2012
Sohne, 61, and his wife moved to Cobble Hill in 1995. The couple raised their three sons and continued to work as trial attorneys at the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense division while Sohne set his sights on increasingly ambitious projects. In 2000, with the help of a team he had banded together over the years, Sohne completed his first big project - a loft in SoHo on Grand and Crosby streets. He credits that space
7428 5th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11209
for, “putting us on the map.” From there, he took on projects in Chelsea, Tribeca and NoHo, including the Great Jones Spa. Attracted by its views of the water and Manhattan skyline, Sohne built an office on Columbia Street in 2002, gathered a team of designers, architects, engineers and construction experts and began to buy land along the waterfront district. Friends told him he was “crazy” to invest in the area, but Sohne disagreed.
is growing! We now publish twice a month.
This means that we have openings for writers and advertising salespeople.
“I met all the people down here, and I said this area is eventually going to be really great,” he said.
Experience is not as important as enthusiasm and love for your neighborhood, Send inquiries to:
Following a commercial project at Atlantic Terminal, Sohne and his partners converted two industrial buildings at 42 and 60 Tiffany Place into high-end condos. The project, completed in 2005, was Sohne’s first residential endeavor in Brooklyn and
George@RedHookStar.com & we’ll get back to you!
acted as one of the final stages of the neighborhood’s transformation from industrial into upscale residential.
Red Hook Star-Revue Page 19