Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hey, I Didn't Know About This...

The Kensington blog recently made posed a question to readers about how one goes about adding a forum to the blog. A reader (and soon-to-be Kensington resident) made the following suggestion:

I'm moving from Prospect Heights to Kensington in a couple of weeks and was bummed to find how few neighborhoodies were posting on the message board for the nabe. Perhaps if you link to it on your blog, the day to day traffic will increase and we can begin to build an e-community.
Here's the direct link to our board: 

So how why didn't any of you tell me about this?

TheRealFlatbush Announces Summer Book Buddy Program & Free Summer Concerts at the BPL

Summer Book Buddy
Summer is fast approaching and for some teens there is not much to do.
Why not Volunteer for:
Summer Book Buddy
Learn new skills and be a role model for other kids
If you're a teen volunteer (ages 12-18), you can help
librarians read aloud to children and assist with  
all kinds of cool youth programs.
Read aloud to children.
Assist staff in the administration of the popular Reading Is Fundamental
(RIF) program.
Assist staff in planning, conducting, and evaluating children's programs like
arts and crafts, drawing and painting, puzzles and games.
Enter registration information for the Library's Summer Reading participants.
12-18 years old.
Consent portion of Volunteer Application signed by parent or guardian before
starting the assignment.
A friendly manner and a strong commitment to working with children.
Book Buddies are asked to make a minimum commitment of volunteering
2-3 hours a day, 2-3 days a week for at least 3 weeks during the summer.
How to Apply
1. Go to your local library and request a Summer Book Buddy application.
2. Contact 718-230-2406
or e-mail at   
Free Concerts
For more information go to

London Calling.

Yeah, I know it's been covered 100 times over...but not by the Pigeon! So here's a few shots I took down at the Brooklyn to London Giant Telescope installation down on the Fulton Landing.

The crowd was amused by the huge contraption.

Brooklynites vie for a place up front.

Brooklynite makes an inquiry via whiteboard message.

Londoner responds.

This six-year-old Brooklynite writes a message 
to an eight-year-old Brit across the pond

Update on Pomegranate Supermarket.

For those of you who are concerned about parking at the new store, a commenter offers the following:

anonymous said...
the old auto shop on the corner was cleared out and that will be the parking lot.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Featured Brooklynite of the Week: John Wojtowicz (aka "Sonny Wortzik")

Who was John Wojtowicz?

John Wojtowicz, a Brooklyn folkhero.

From Wikipedia:
John Stanley Wojtowicz (Born on March 25,1941 in New York - Died on January 2, 2006) in New York, New York) was an American Bank Robber whose story inspired the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
Wojtowicz, who was bisexual married his first wife, Carmen Bifulco, in 1967. They had two children, and separated in 1969. Wojtowicz met pre-operative transexual Elizabeth Eden (then known as Ernest Aron) in 1971 at an Italian Feast in New York City. Wojtowicz and Eden were married on December 4, 1971.
Perhaps because of stress over her inability to afford sex reassignment surgery, Eden attempted suicide several times. Wojtowicz set on the path that made him famous after failing to procure funds for Eden's birthday on August 19, 1972. On August 20, 1972 Eden attempted suicide again. The following day, Wojtowicz went to the psychiatric ward to try to get Eden released but was told she would not be released until she was cured of her gender identity problem. Wojtowicz assumed this meant either curing her homosexuality or receiving a sex change operation.
On August 22, 1972, Wojtowicz, along with Sal Naturile and another man, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East Third Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Wojtowicz and Naturile held seven Chase Manhattan bank employees hostage for 14 hours. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day.
The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested, but Naturile was killed by the FBI during the final moments of the incident.
According to Wojtowicz, he was offered a deal for pleading guilty, which the court did not honor and on April 23, 1973, he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison of which he served 14, being released on April 10, 1987. He made $7,500 selling the movie rights to the story, and helped finance Eden's sex reassignment surgery with these funds. In 1987, Time reported that Eden, 41, died of AIDS-related pneumonia in Rochester.
Wojtowicz's story was used as the basis for the film Dog Day Afternoon. The movie was released in 1975, and starred Al Pacino as Wojtowicz (called "Sonny Wortzik" in the film), and John Cazale, Pacino's co-star in The Godfather, as Naturile. Eden, known as "Leon" in the film, was portrayed by actor Chris Sarandon.
In 1975 John Wojtowicz wrote a letter to The New York Times out of concern that people would believe the movie version of the events which he said was only 30% accurate. Wojtowicz's main objection was the inaccurate portrayal of his wife Carmen Bifulco as a plain, overweight woman whose behavior led to his relationship with Elizabeth Eden, when in fact he had left her two years before he met Eden. Other concerns he had that were fictionalized in the movie were that he never spoke to his mother and that the police refused to let him speak to his wife Carmen. In addition, the movie intimated that John 'sold out' Sal Naturile to the police, and although he claims this to be untrue, several attempts were made on John's life following an inmate screening of the movie. He did however praise Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon's characterizations of himself and wife Elizabeth Eden as accurate. In a 2006 interview, the screenwriter of the movie, Frank Pierson, said that he tried to visit John Wojtowicz in prison many times to get more details about his story when he wrote the screenplay but Wojtowicz refused each time to see him because he thought he was not paid enough money for the rights of his story.
Wojtowicz was also the subject of two documentaries, The Third Memory in 2000 and Based on A True Story in 2005. In 2001, The New York Times reported that he was living on welfare in Brooklyn.
Wojtowicz died of cancer on January 2, 2006.


The Actual Events of August 22, 1973 in Gravesend, Brooklyn:

The Standoff with the NYPD

Wojotowicz issues warnings

Negotiations begin

Negotiations continue

The bank where the robbery took place was a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank,at 450 Avenue P in Brooklyn, at the cross street of East 3rd Street, in Gravesend Brooklyn. Today the location of Brooklyn Medical Imaging Center.


Wojtowicz married the pre-operative Elizabeth Eden (then Ernest Aron) on December 4, 1971. Unfortunately same-sex marriage was unheard of and Wojtowicz was still legally married to his first wife.

The Next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari: Saturday, June 14, 2008, at 12 Noon.

From the Brooklyn Parrots web site:

Attention all Urban Parrot fans: the next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari will happen on Saturday, June 14, 2008, at 12 Noon. All interested wild parrot fans should meet at Brooklyn College's Hillel Gate, which is at the intersection of Hillel Place and Campus Road. Our tour runs in two sections. You can attend either section, or both, depending on how many wild parrots you'd like to see!
Please e-mail me if you want to attend, so I know how many folks are coming. Note: the rain date for this trip is Sunday, June 15th, same monk time, same monk location.
Wild Parrot Safari -- First Section (Brooklyn College): 12:00 Noon to 1:45PMAt noon, we'll inspect the Brooklyn Parrots' "Ellis Island." Their large nests around the soccer field represents the first major colony in Brooklyn. The site is easy to get to via public transportation. Just take the Number 2 train (Seventh Avenue IRT) to the end of the line, walk one block Southwest on Hillel Street past the new Starbucks, and look for the main Brooklyn College date. The tour begins at the entrance at Noon sharp. Allow some extra time, given that the MTA is doing lots of construction/train re-routing on weekends. Driving instructions are available at Brooklyn College's main Web site. Parking is fairly easy to come by in the neighborhood. If you're late, just call me: I'll give you directions so that you can meet up with us if the tour is already in progress.
Wild Parrot Safari -- Second Section (Green-Wood Cemetery): 2:30PM-5PM. Due to popular demand, our monthly tour will run an optional "second section." After getting our share of the raucous antics of the Brooklyn College Parrots, at approximately 1:45 PM, our group will walk to the Q Train (BMT) station at Avenue H and journey to Green-Wood Cemetery, where we will observe the late-afternoon antics of the parrots residing there. If you just want to see the Green-Wood parrots, show up at 2:30 PM and we'll be there. To get to Green-Wood, take the R Train to 25th Street and walk one block East to 25th and 5th Avenue.
What to Bring/What to WearPlease bring a photo ID (this is required by Brooklyn College Security). If you like, bring binoculars and a camera if you'd like to immortalize your wild parrot-watching experience. The weather will probably be balmy in early May, but we'll be exposed to the wind and possibly strong sun. I ordinarily do not cancel the tour unless the forecast is for sustained rain in which birds will not fly.
Please feel free to wear anything except bright orange (Monk Parrots freak out when you show them something orange: in fact orange tags are one of the best ways to convince Monk Parrots to build away from electrical infrastructure). Wear green, blue, white, but orange will drive away the birds. Go figure!
This Tour is Free, But the Parrots Are Hungry!The Wild Parrot Safari is free - if you wish to help your hungry urban feathered friends, bring some bird seed: trust me, the parrots won't soon forget the gesture. Wild monk parrots also appreciate "real parrot food," especially unshelled peanuts, sliced apples, and raw sunflower seeds. Finch food or millet are always welcomed by our hungry urban "peeps."
See you in wild, exotic Brooklyn!

Steve Baldwin, Webmaster,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Upcoming Art Show at Smackmellon: THERE IS NO SYNONYM FOR HOPE. (Obama inspired?)

Co-curated by Lauren Schell Dickens and Julie McKim

Sonya Blesofsky, José Luis Cortés S., Cristina Fontsare, Joshua Eggleton, Samuel Ekwurtzel, Rachel Hines, Takashi Horisaki, Karrie Hovey, Jeff Kao, Petra Kralickova, Noah Nakell, Beth Krebs, Andrew Scott Ross, MiYoung Sohn, K Staelin

Exhibition dates: June 14- July 27, 2008
Artists' reception: Saturday, June 14, 5-8pm
(Members' Tour with Curators begins @6pm)

Smack Mellon is pleased to present There is No Synonym for Hope. Each summer Smack Mellon selects guest curators to organize a show of emerging artists in our gallery space. This season curators Lauren Schell Dickens and Julie McKim have put together a thematic show featuring the work of fifteen international artists.

We live in uncertain times of deep cynicism and audacious hope. Assumed structures, both political and social, once deemed infallible have once again revealed their cracks. Our global world has reshuffled historic relationships, shifting economic and cultural paradigms, while fires, floods and war ravage the landscape. As these once promising structures break around us, we are forced to reconsider our place in the world as both physical and psychological beings. There is no synonym for hope showcases work by 15 emerging international artists who use sculpture, photography, video, drawing, performance, and site-specific installation to examine the contemporary landscape of uncertainty, and explore the consequences of these eroding structures.
Failing structures breed anxiety, fostering a climate of disillusionment and vulnerability, while also opening a void of possibility. As established systems break apart, we are left with the boundlessness of a model yet to be defined, a new beginning to rebuild and try again. Yet the visions presented in this exhibition are far from utopian. Working under a looming recession and a saturated art market, the artists in this show reflect survivalist and escapist tendencies; they are insolent and resilient, inspired not by a blind optimism, but by an obstinate hope that continuously drives their art production. There is no synonym for hope seeks to capture the emotional, political and psychological responses elicited by the interrelationship of hope and failure.

Click here to read the full press release.

92 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Huge Brand Spanking New Supermarket Opening on Coney Island Avenue

Now, this isn't going to get the same quantity of blog press as Whole Foods or Ikea - if it gets any coverage at all other than this entry...But this baby's a doozer!

I have no idea when it's opening but my guess is that it will cater to the local Kosher community. It is located is at 1507 Coney Island Avenue (near Avenue L).

The Flatbush Junction BID Administers a Matching Grant Program for Storefront Improvements.

The Junction BID administers a matching grant program for storefront improvements along the Flatbush Nostrand Junction Commercial Corridor.

From the Flatbush Junction BID
We are proud to announce our first complete storefront belonging to 16 year Junction veteran Bulletproof Commics and Games at 2178 Nostrand Avenue between Avenue H and Hillel Place. Improvements include sign, awning, storefront glass and open grids placed in the security gate.

Bulletproof is a unique Junction business specializing in the latest games and gaming equipment, comic books, used games, T shirts, anime and other memorabilia. Bulletproof also runs competitive game tournaments most Sundays. Support a great local business and check it out!
To Hank and the rest of the staff at Bulletproof- thanks for investing in our neighborhood.
For more information regarding the matching grant program; email 
flatbushjunctionbid@yahoo.comor call (718) 951-5000, ext 1449

It's Official! BC Roosevelt Hall to be Demolished.

As reported by Brooklyn Junction several weeks ago (click here for details) and as just announced at Brooklyn College's 83rd Commencement exercises BC's Roosevelt Hall will be replaced by a "new state-of-the-art science facility" in the near future.

Dr. Smith and the Unique 2008 Commencement Exercises at NJ's Rowan University

The 2008 Commencement Exercise at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, weren't your run-of-the-mill pomp and circumstances. For one, the commencement address given by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. was one which gave it to the graduates straight up. Pitts told graduates: "Class of 2008, the sad truth is you are about to be turned loose into a world of stupid."

According to the Press of Atlantic City, Pitts went on to say;

Pitts jarred his audience from complacency with denouncements of a society littered with too many "intellectually lazy and morally unkempt" individuals "drugged" by technology, "a people hypnotized by a culture of acquisition and corporate values."
"We have more ways to say and yet less to say than ever before, more power and yet less willingness to use it than ever before," Pitts said. "We watch from the well of our own impotence as the world goes to hell. And when things seem most bleak, most hopeless, most dire, we shop. When the going gets tough, the tough go to the mall.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Pitts continued, "peace is not for sale at the mall. Justice is not for sale at the mall. Progress is not for sale at the mall. The things that enable you to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are a worthwhile person, a contributor to this experiment called humanity, those things are not for sale at the mall. They come when you work for them, they come when you fight for them, they come when you plant trees."

If that wasn't inspiration enough for the class of '08, the lucky graduates got to witness the legendary Punk Priestess, Patti Smith, collect an honorary degree. Smith dropped out of the university - then known as Glassboro State 40 years ago to head to NYC for greater challenges. Of course, those challenges were met head on. In addition to her 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as being awarded one of the highest French cultural honors; Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters, Smith now has the title of "Doctor" to add to her impressive dossier.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

IFC and Rooftop Films Summer Film Series 2008 FREE Warm-Up Screening.

IFC and Rooftop Films Present
At the Death House Door

     Pastor Carroll Pickett oversaw 95 executions at a Texas prison,
     but the experiences changed his views forever. Documentary.  

*Venue: on the lawn at Fort Greene Park
*Directions: Enter the park near N. Portland on the Myrtle Ave. side.
*Train: take almost any train that goes into Brooklyn to get near the park
* When: Saturday, May 31st, 9 PM
*Admission: FREE!
*Program Notes
*Watch the film on IFC next week

Rooftop Films a summer film series dedicated to showing new, independent films in unique outdoor locations. The official opening night is Friday July 6 on the roof of the New Design High School in the Lower East Side. We screen every weekend in June & July all over the city. If you would like the full schedule or more information visit:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brooklyn Blogfest 2008 Roster

As posted by Creative Times blog earlier today here is the roster of participants in BROOKLYN BLOGFEST 2008. Give them a visit!


Newkirk Plaza's Centennial Celebration May 31, 2008

Come celebrate the 100 year Anniversary of the dedication of Newkirk Plaza.
Saturday May 31, 2008.
Newkirk Plaza Station House
2:00 - 3:00
(right after the Flatbush Neighborhood Cleanup.)
All Welcome!

The FDC Flatbush Neighborhood Clean-up Sat. May. 31, 2008

The FDC Flatbush
Neighborhood Clean-up

Sat. May. 31, 2008

Spend the day doing something useful for our neighborhood. Bring your kids and friends and lets make an outing of it.
The Clean-up is from -10:00 am-2:00 pm (only 4 hours!!!) on Saturday, May 31, 2008. We'll be painting over graffiti. Please join us. Come at 10 amto 1616 Newkirk Avenue (FDC offices)
All are welcome. (Whole day participation is not necessary) From 2:00pm - 3:00pm Party on Newkirk Plaza to celebrate 100 years of the oldest outdoor commercial pedestrian mall in the country.

Here are 3 easy things you can do:
1. Call your Neighborhood Association president and make sure they are involved.
2. Find out what areas your neighbors are painting or cleaning. Sign up now to help paint over graffiti/tagged up eyesores in your neighborhood.
3. Come out that day to 1616 Newkirk Avenue at 10 am, Clean your lawn/sidewalk/curb. Need tools/paint? No problem, just Call FDC
Phone: 718 859-3800 or fax: 718 859-4632

Bags, gloves, paint, etc. can be picked up from the FDC office between 9am - 11am, same day.
Pass the word around!! Rain or Shine, Flatbush will be cleaned!!!
This event is sponsored by the Flatbush Development Corporation; funded inpart by Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs and Jim Brennan. Free T-Shirts, Garbage Bags and other clean-up supplies sponsored by Davis & Warshow Inc.Donations and sponsorships are still being accepted.
For More Information, Contact:Mannix GordonDirector of Economic Development
Flatbush Development Corporation1616 Newkirk AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11226


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tough Talking Tots!

Maybe some of you read all the hoopla about some chalkings in the Argyle Tot Lot as posted on the Ditmas Park Blog a few weeks ago.  If not, check it out here: Tot Lot Graffiti: Free Tibet Bitch.  My take on all that is that those 'political statements' were written by kids. And, you know what?: Brooklyn kids have always been and may always will be some pretty tough-talking specimens - and you better believe they mean what they're saying. So if a frickin' Brooklyn kid tells ya to "Free Tibet, Bitch" then Free Tibet, Bitch!  

Yet, apparently another neighborhood playground has trumped the Argyle kids in the tough-talking category. Clearly the Hot Spot Tot Lot (Ave H & Campus Road) is the arena for some mean-ass tots and they have RULES. I happened upon these chalkings Saturday morning. Do I worry that my six-year old will be transforming into one of these meanies because she read these chalkings? Nah, she said she would give the bad kids who wrote these words a big time-out. (And guess from whom she learned the effectiveness of that penalty!)

Are you ready to learn the RULES?  Well Here ya go...

Did you get that?
No talking
No no NO holding hands
Just sit down 
and don't play 
I say 
No singing
No writting
Also I will 
kill you if you 
stand up!!

You read that right.

Here's another little tyrants set of RULES:

You can play. 
No taking crap. 
No peeing.
You can smack 
people with the swing...
You can 
show your
 ass and your pennise
and (? something)

Now pay attention to these ones kids. These are the most important rules of the Hot Spot playground:

No twisting or 
(? something will happen to you.)

Ok.  Got that straight now?  Good, because these kids aren't messing around. Just try to kick up in the Hot Spot Playground singing the Itsy-Bitsy Spider or the ABCs.  I dare you!

Friday, May 23, 2008

AIDS Walk Caribbean to Raise Funds for HIV programs in celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month.

AIDS Walk Caribbean is sponsored by Caribbean People's International Collective to raise funds for HIV programs in celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month.

WHEN: Sunday June 8, 2008

TIME: 1000 AM- Registration and Pre-walk activities

WHERE: Flatbush & Nostrand Ave Brooklyn New York (Final Destination Wingate Park Brooklyn NY)

Should you have questions about becoming a team leader, or creating a team please call Truda Hickman at 718 576-1839.

To learn more, please contact Dawn Stewart at 718 576-1839 or 703 441-2619 or email us at

Students can be a part of annual "International Youth Summit" to support AIDS Walk Caribbean. Before this school year ends get as many of your friends together as you can to raise money for the AIDS Walk Caribbean. Register your team.

Three TOP FUNDRAISING STUDENT will WIN a free trip to Guyana, South America to participate in the Annual International Youth Summit scheduled for July 2008. Hosted by Monique's Helping Hands, and CPIC Inc!

Money raised by AIDS Walk Caribbean is used to support HIV/AIDS in the Brooklyn communities and CPIC Inc goal to reduce the rates of HIV.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nominations Now Being Accepted for theThird Annual Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award

Nominations Now Being Accepted for theThird Annual Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award
The Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award (YGCP) acknowledges the often-unsung leaders of grassroots, community-based planning. The award was created to commemorate the work of Ms. Yolanda Garcia, a community activist in the South Bronx. Under Ms. Garcia’s leadership, the residents of Melrose challenged the city, created an alternative to an urban renewal plan, and transformed a neighborhood. The organization created by Ms. Garcia, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, is bringing that community’s vision to life through planning, design, construction, and programming. On April 19, 2007, the second annual YGCP award was presented to Ms. Elizabeth Yeampierre during a spirited celebration for her work at UPROSE.
This year the Planning Center is seeking to present the YGCP award to a community planner who embodies the spirit of the work of Ms. Garcia and Nos Quedamos. The award will be presented to an individual who has demonstrated his or her ability to overcome the many obstacles to grassroots, community-based planning and has succeeded in bringing neighborhood need and vision into New York City’s planning process.
The award recipient must:
Work on a placed-based community plan aimed at addressing local needs, limiting displacement, and improving the overall quality of life for neighborhood residents;
Be a self-taught planner with no formal, academic, or professional training as a planner;
Work in a low to moderate income community within NYC’s five boroughs;
Use an inclusive, community-driven approach that values participation and the use of local knowledge;
Have a proactive approach to planning focusing not only on advocacy but the actual creation and implementation of a community-based plan.
Nominations are to be submitted as essays, not to exceed 500 words, by a person familiar with the applicant’s work.
Nominations will be reviewed by the YGCP awards selection committee. Member of the selection committee include: Yolanda Gonzalez/Nos Quedamos, Tom Angotti/Hunter College, Ron Shiffman/Pratt Institute, Micaela Birmingham/New Yorkers for Parks, Damaris Reyes/GOLES, and Harry Bubbins/Friends of Brook Park.
The recipient will receive a $2,500 cash gift and will be honored at a ceremony in early July.
To learn more about the award and to nominate someone click
here. For questions, please contact Lacey Tauber at or 212.935.3960 ext. 261.

Featured Brooklynites of the Week: Brooklyn Environmentalist

This week's Featured Brooklynites of the Week honor goes to those folks who are truly contributing to the greening of our borough. You know them. You see them pushing shopping carts down the streets and rummaging through your trash looking for a for your discarded cans, plastic and glass bottles. Here's a few of our revered environmentalists cashing in at a local recycling center in Gravesend. These folks are truly worthy of our applause!

The Brooklyn College 2008 Commencement Speaker: Leonard Lopate

Here's a treat for BC grads and their guests as well as NPR fans. BC Alum Leonard Lopate will give the 2008 Commencement address on May 29 at 10:00. The only problem is getting tickets for the event...Even graduates have trouble getting them for their families! There is however a webcast that can be found on the BC website.

From the 2008 BC Commencement Program:

Leonard Lopate, ’67


Leonard Lopate is a polymath, Renaissance man, and consummate interviewer in the media. Over the course of his career, he has been an artist, a novelist, and an advertising executive, and in 1977 he discovered his true calling in the world of radio. To his profession he brings his varied experience, his agile, inquisitive mind, and his wide range of knowledge, all of which have established him as an interlocutor extraordinaire, one of the most engaging and original personalities on the busy New York airwaves. Each weekday he burrows, quietly and intelligently, into the city’s - and particularly Brooklyn’s- cultural, social, intellectual, and political life.

Leonard Lopate and his brother Phillip grew up in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and East Flatbush neighborhoods. To blunt the edge of their sibling rivalry, they agreed in their teens to divide the creative world between them: Phillip would become a writer, and is now a respected essayist, novelist, poet, and teacher, and Leonard would become a painter.

At Brooklyn College, Leonard Lopate studied under Ad Reinhardt, among other luminaries. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he pursued a career as a painter, then turned to the literary arts, and subsequently to advertising, where he marketed records for country music singers Slim Whitman and Boxcar Willie. On a whim, Lopate auditioned for a job at WKCR, the
Columbia College radio station, and was hired to host a jazz show, which he did for about one year.

In 1977 his career in radio began in earnest—first, as the disc jockey for a gospel music show on WBAI-FM and then, on the same station, as the host of the weekly Round Midnight, a late-night talk show that invited listeners to call in for interview and discussion. There he discovered he could speak on art and literature, and on music, history, and politics, and could range from the general to the arcane.

In the mid-1980s he joined WNYC-AM, where he and veteran broadcaster Pegeen Fitzgerald cohosted the daily talk show New York and Company. His popularity earned him his own show, the Leonard Lopate Show, which airs every weekday at noon.

Throughout three decades on the air, Lopate, whom the New York Times has called a “conversational acrobat,” has interviewed poets, actors, physicists, novelists, comedians, chefs, building inspectors, and former presidents. Among his guests are former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Vice-President Al Gore, Nobel Prize and Academy Award winners, and a host of Brooklyn writers, such as Paula Fox, Kathryn Harrison, Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, and Pulitzer Prize–winner Frank McCourt.

Lopate frequently appears at the 92nd Street Y, a New York mecca of discourse, where he interviews celebrities and is the panel moderator for his series, “Comparing Notes.” He serves regularly as the host and moderator of “Brooklyn on My Mind,” a reading discussion series held on the Brooklyn College campus. Under his guidance, the series focuses on the borough of Brooklyn as a community of writers and as a setting in fiction.

For his breadth of experience and expertise, informed by long and careful research, and for his insightful, penetrating, provocative, and always entertaining inquiry into the vastly varied life of a great city and the wider world, Brooklyn College honors Leonard Lopate with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Now Why Didn't We Think of This?

Perhaps some of you caught this mornings NPR story about the funky velvet painting museum known as Velveteria in Portland Oregon. If you missed it, you can listen here.

Apparently, Elvis is not king in the world of velvet art. Jesus is #1 followed by naked ladies.
Now, really this kind of tacky is clearly a Brooklyn kind of thing. So, why didn't we think of this?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Brooklyn Community Board 14 is hosting Youth Expo 2008, its first-ever event to help teenagers in the Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington communities find summer jobs, community service opportunities, internships, and other youth-oriented programs. Many City agencies, community organizations, and businesses will be providing information on their services and opportunities for teens to browse during the evening.Brooklyn Community Board Chair Alvin Berk is scheduled to speak, along with several young people from the community.

The event will be held:

When: Thursday, May 22, 2008 6 PM – 9 PM

Where: Brooklyn College Art Lab, 301 Roosevelt Hall (Floor 3R)

2900 Bedford Avenue between Campus Road and Avenue I

Friday, May 16, 2008

Featured Brooklynite of the Week

Featured Brooklynite of the Week: 
Barbara Stanwyck

This week's FBOW is not only a borough favorite, she is high on the Pigeon's list of spectacular women. Stanwyck was known for her seductive strut. Rumor has it that her agent suggested that she look to the animal kingdom for examples of how to move. Stanwyck took her agents advice to heart and spent weeks at the zoo studying the panthers gate. She had it down to a tee.

From Wikpedia:
Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was a four-time Academy Award-nominated, three-time Emmy Award-winning, and Golden Globe-winning American actress of film, stage, and screen. She is ranked as the eleventh greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in New York City to Catherine Ann McPhee, a Canadian immigrant from Nova Scotia, and Byron E. Stevens, an American. When she was two, her mother, who was pregnant at the time, died after being pushed off a moving trolley by a drunk. By age four, her father had abandoned the family. She was raised in foster homes and by an elder sister, but began working at age 13, and was a fashion model and Ziegfeld Girl by the age of 15. She was reared in Brooklyn, New York, where she attended
Erasmus Hall High School.

In 1926, Stanwyck began performing at the Hudson Theatre in the drama The Noose, which became one of the biggest hit plays of the season. She co-starred with actors Rex Cherryman and Wilfred Lucas. Cherryman and Stanwyck began a romantic relationship. The relationship was cut short however, when in 1928, Cherryman died at the age of 30 of septic poisoning while vacationing in Le Havre, France. Her performance in The Noose earned rave reviews, and she was summoned by film producer Bob Kane to make a screen test for his upcoming 1927 silent film Broadway Nights where she won a minor part of a fan dancer after losing out the lead role, because she couldn't cry during the screen test. This marked Stanwyck's first film appearance.


from the trailer for The Lady Eve (1941) In 1926, a friend introduced Stanwyck (then known under her original name) to Willard Mack, who was casting his play The Noose. Asked to audition, she was hired on the spot. Willard thought a great deal of the actress and believed that to change her image, she needed a first class name, one that would stand out. He happened to notice a playbill for a play then running called Barbara Frietchie in which an actress named Jane Stanwyck appeared. He used this to come up with "Barbara Stanwyck" as Ruby's new stage name. She was an instant hit and he even rewrote the script to give her a bigger part.

Stanwyck starred in almost 100 films during her career and received four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Stella Dallas (1937), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). In 1954 she appeared opposite Ronald Reagan in the western Cattle Queen of Montana. Perhaps her most famous role was in the 1941 film The Lady Eve, in which she starred with Henry Fonda.

As well as being a versatile actress Stanwyck also had a reputation as being one of the nicest people ever to grace Hollywood. She was known for her accessibility and kindness to the backstage crew on any film set. Frank Capra said she was "destined to be beloved by all directors, actors, crews and extras. In a Hollywood popularity contest she would win first prize hands down." She received an Academy Honorary Award "for superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting" in 1982.

When Stanwyck's film career declined in 1957, she moved to television. Her 1961–1962 series The Barbara Stanwyck Show was not a ratings success but earned the star her first Emmy Award. The 1965–1969 Western series The Big Valley on ABC made her one of the most popular actresses on television, winning her another Emmy. She was billed as "Miss Barbara Stanwyck," and her role as head of a frontier family was likened to that of Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene in the long-running NBC series Bonanza. Stanwyck's costars included Richard Long (who had been in Stanwyck's 1953 film All I Desire), Peter Breck, Linda Evans, and Lee Majors.

Years later, Stanwyck earned her third Emmy for The Thorn Birds. In 1985, she made three guest appearances on the hit primetime soap opera Dynasty prior to the launch of its ill-fated spin-off series The Colbys in which Stanwyck starred alongside Charlton Heston, Stephanie Beacham and Katharine Ross. Stanwyck remained with the series for only one season (it only lasted for two), and her role as Constance Colby Patterson would prove to be her last. Ironically, Earl Hamner Jr. (producer of The Waltons) had initially wanted Stanwyck for the lead role of Angela Channing on the successful 1980s soap opera, Falcon Crest, but she turned it down. The role ultimately went to Jane Wyman.

William Holden always credited her with saving his career when they co-starred in Golden Boy. They remained lifelong friends. Stanwyck and Holden were presenting the Best Sound Oscar. Holden paused to pay a special tribute to Stanwyck. Shortly after Holden's death, Stanwyck returned the favor at an awards ceremony, with an emotional reference to "her golden boy."

In 1973, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1987 the American Film Institute awarded her a televised AFI Life Achievement Award. Stanwyck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street.

Personal life
Her first husband was actor Frank Fay. They were married on August 26, 1928. On December 5, 1932 they adopted a son, Dion Anthony "Tony" Fay, who was one month old. (He and Stanwyck eventually became estranged.) The marriage was a troubled one; Fay's successful career on Broadway did not translate to the big screen, whereas Stanwyck achieved Hollywood stardom, after a short bumpy start. Also, Fay reportedly did not shy away from physical confrontations with his young wife, especially when he was inebriated. Some film historians claim that the marriage was the basis for A Star is Born. The couple divorced on December 30, 1935. Rumors of Stanwyck's sexuality have lingered for decades, with it being said that she was in fact lesbian or bisexual, and that she'd had an affair with actress Tallulah Bankhead, during the same time frame that Bankhead was having her affair with actress Patsy Kelly. While such rumors were never confirmed by Miss Stanwyck, similar stories about her are featured in books about lesbians in Hollywood.

Stanwyck and actor Robert Taylor began living together. Their 1939 marriage was arranged with the help of the studio, a common practice in Hollywood's golden age. She and Taylor enjoyed their time together outdoors during the early years of their marriage, and were the proud owners of many acres of prime West Los Angeles property. Their large ranch and home in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood, Los Angeles, California is still to this day referred to by locals as the old "Robert Taylor ranch".

Taylor would have several affairs during the marriage, including one with Ava Gardner. Stanwyck was rumored to have attempted suicide when she learned of Taylor's fling with Lana Turner. She ultimately filed for divorce in 1950 when a starlet made her romance with Taylor public. The decree was granted on February 21, 1951. Even after the divorce, they still acted together in Stanwyck's last feature film The Night Walker (1964). Stanwyck was reportedly devastated when many of his old letters and photos were lost in a house fire. She never remarried, collecting alimony of 15 percent of Taylor's salary until his death in 1969.

Her sister-in-law was B-movie actress Caryl Lincoln, who had married Stanwyck's brother, Byron Stevens, whom Lincoln had met through her friendship with Stanwyck. The two would remain married until Stevens' death in 1964, having one son, Brian.

Later years
Her retirement years were active, with charity work done completely out of the limelight. She became somewhat reclusive following a robbery in her home while she was present; she was pushed into a closet, but suffered no serious physical injury.

She died of congestive heart disease at St. John's Hospital, in Santa Monica, California.

Subscribe in a reader