Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dr Albert Hoffman, The Inventor of LSD-25 dies at 102!

Lucy's Daddy has sadly taken his last trip.

I read a rumor about this yesterday and started a post about it but didn't publish it. Since it was just confirmed on NPR news, I'm going with it. Here's a report from from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Also visit the Hoffman's organization: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies: Supporting psychedelic & medical marijuana research since 1986.


Father of LSD takes final trip
Dylan Welch
April 30, 2008 - 11:50AM

The father of LSD and the first person to experience an "acid trip", Albert Hoffman, has died aged 102.

Swiss-born Hoffman was renowned by chemists, pharmacists and hippies the world over for stumbling across the world's first synthesised hallucinogen, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), in 1938.

His research, for pharmaceutical company Sandoz, involved trying to find a circulatory and respiratory simulant and initially he abandoned LSD when it failed to show any positive effects on test animals.

But five years later, on April 16, 1943, Hoffman decided to re-examine the drug and three days later he deliberately consumed 250 micrograms before asking his laboratory assistant to help him ride his bike home.

That day, April 19, 1943, became known as "Bicycle Day" to acid aficionados.

In his 1979 autobiography, LSD, My Problem Child, he described the ride.

"On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror.

"I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had travelled very rapidly."

When he arrived home he was brought some milk by a neighbour, whom he perceived as a "malevolent, insidious witch" wearing "a lurid mask".

Six hours later the effects subsided but the legendary effects of the hallucinogen were born, and over the next six decades became an important part of Western counter-culture and a highly controversial drug.

Hoffman always expressed his disappointment with LSD eventually being criminalised, saying the drug had the potential to deal with psychological problems caused by "materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life".

Despite the controversy, Hoffman became a celebrated figure in the scientific community, and in his retirement served as a member of the Nobel Prize Committee as well as being a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences.

In 1988 the Albert Hoffman Foundation was created "to assemble and maintain an international library and archive devoted to the study of human consciousness and related fields."

The president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Rick Doblin posted a statement on the association's website confirming the death.

"[Albert and I] spoke on the phone the day after [a] conference and he was happy and fulfilled," the statement read.

"He'd seen the renewal of LSD psychotherapy research with his own eyes, as had [his wife] Anita.

"I said that I looked forward to discussing the results of the study with him in about a year and a half and he laughed and said he'd try to help the research however he could, either from this side or 'the other side'."

Hoffman died on Tuesday morning at his home in Basel, Switzerland, from a heart attack.

He was married with three children.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Do you know Mr. Right?

A good while back a friend of mine forwarded the below Craigslist ad to me. She knew that its author was the perfect man for me and she was so right. Since my first read of this genius ad, I have been obsessed with the author as he is clearly my perfect counterpart.

I have searched the city over and he is no where to be found. So I turn to you my beloved readers for any clues to his whereabouts. Perhaps you suspect that this ad was written by your sociopathic ex-husband, pothead brother-in-law or annoying comic-collecting coworker. Whatever the case and despite your biases, please forward your suspicions to me. Why should I be denied my true counterpart?
The Pigeon

Mr. Right - m4w

Reply to:
Date: 2005-08-22, 6:21PM EDT

Newly separated in a dead end job seeks dumpy unfulfilled neurotic for mutual psychological torture, tepid sax, and co-dependency. I enjoy drinking, smoking, pornography, and self-righteous indignation. I can't stand dancing, and the last album I bought was America's Greatest Hits. I have middling intelligence but try to appear smarter by affecting a world-weary air, memorizing useless facts, and chuckling at my own mean-spirited, agenda-driven jokes. I'm 42 but look 52 and feel 80.

are a whiny, bitter shrew with a misplaced sense of entitlementand unrealistic expectations. In time you will become coolly hostile when I don't fulfill every unmet need you've ever had. Bonus points if you just finished having sex with every guy in town and but now want to take
it slow with me. My perfect night would include getting hammered in a sh*t-hole bar while you flirt with seedy old drunks, followed by an embarrassing screaming match.

I would be open to an unsatisfying fling that leaves me filled with regret and dread but prefer a long-term, soul crushing descent into booze and pills. No friendships. I don't need any more dam friends. Age unimportant, but I will condescend to women under 30 and rehash mother
issues with women over 40.

Serious replies only, please.
no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pigeon Challenge: Name That Year! Name That Show!

Digressing again: NYC concert history.

Now, I know there are at least a few readers out there who, like me, begrudgingly dug into their pocket and came up with the whopping six-and-a half bucks for a ticket to a few Dr. Pepper Music Festival shows on Pier 84 in the late 70s/early 80s. 

For those of you who were not fortunate to be around for these years of cheap rock-n-roll, this price was blasphemous to festival patrons. In its earlier form, the DPMF was sponsored by the (Brooklyn-based!)Schaefer Brewing Company and the venue was Central Park's Wollman Rink.  The ticket price for a Wollman Rink show was $3.00...and that was too much to pay for many of us. (After all, that price had crept up from the original $1.00 price over the years.) During the park years many of us sat on the rocks surrounding the rink with our stash and wine sack and were able to enjoy the show with a reasonably unobstructed view. (It was sort of the equivalent to the modern-day wireless network piggyback.)
Unfortunately, when the shows were moved to the Pier, there was no option to sponge off the Corporate sponsors and paying ticket holders, unless of course you had a friend with a boat. So we accepted and paid what we then thought was a "hefty" price.  

Anyway, I came across a stack of old ticket stubs from those days and am both intrigued and bemused by the missing data on ticket #1 pictured above.  So here's my challenge: If anyone can tell me the name of the artist(s) that impelled me to forfeit six dollars and fifty cents on June 9th in the unknown year in which the Dr.Pepper/Seven-Up Bottling company set that price, I will personally serenade you with the Dr.Pepper Theme song, "I'm a Pepper", on the steps of Borough Hall.  I am also willing to substitute that with the Schaefer theme at your request.  Please note that I've included an image of a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert ticket stub dated August 13, 1985 which yielded a price of $12.50 from me. From that we can ascertain that the performance in question occurred several years prior to the CS&N show.  

Give it your best NYC concert historians! Participation in "Name That Year; Name That Show!" could provide you with the satisfaction of my public humiliation on the steps of Borough Hall. To many of you, I'm sure that trophy is well-worth your time and research efforts.

The Pigeon

A Coney Island Memories...

This is the sight of the Coney Island branch of Manufacturers Hanover. My dad used to take me here to cash his check. Great memories for me because there was no way that Daddy was getting past the Kiddie Park with all that cash in hand!

This building later became the sight of the Coney Island Museum. It is now in the hands of Thor Equities. What's next for the old MannyHanny?

Images of The Cortelyou Tot Lot Mural

Vignettes of our Wonderful Cortelyou Tot Lot Mural. (So,..maybe it could use a touch-up. Still, it's a great mural.)

"VOTE" Avenue N off Ocean Parkway

I'm starting to have my suspicions about just who is behind this campaign:

Sidewalk Set and Landscaping Added To Midwood HS Park

Midwood High School and its environs are beginning to look absolutely lovely as it readies for the completion of its new Science Complex and Park!

The sidewalk concrete was poured on Thursday and is setting nicely as I blog.

Landscaping has been tastefully added to the NW area of the space.

Artist's rendering of Midwood Project

Friday, April 25, 2008

The "VOTE" campaign continues...

"VOTE" obscures a US Air Force sticker on Glenwood Road street sign.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Progress on Midwood HS Park!

There's been a bit of progress over at the Midwood HS park. Construction crew began to ready the front area yesterday to pour concrete for the sidewalk. The playground area has been fitted with safety mats and is looking good. I inquired with the crew about the possible opening and was told that the projection is late June.

Getting ready for the pour.

New safety Mats.

As a playground connoisseur (with roughly 7 years experience) the only problem with that opening date is that it will be hot as hell for most of the day. I think the plan for the space includes some tree planting so in about 5 years this place will be great all year. Until then, mama will just have to slather the kids up with SPF 95 and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Whatever. I'm going to find a way to enjoy this much-needed public space!

Brooklyn College Bike Lot Repaved and Landscaped

A nice improvement over the gravel bike pit that it replaces. Perhaps, BC is encouraging people to bike it for the environment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Featured Brooklynite of the Week.

Francie Nolan
as portrayed by Peggy Ann Garner
in Eli Kazan's 1945 adaptation of
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

"Brooklyn was a dream. All the things that happened there just couldn't happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?"
~Betty Smith 
Chapter 55, pg. 467

It seems that the Featured Brooklynite of the Week category is shaping up to be one of considerable flexibility.  So far, we've had an Early 20th century Hollywood Diva, a group of mulish old men, a documentary film making genius, and now a fictional schoolgirl from WWI era Williamsburg slum.

Francie Nolan is the central character of Betty Smith’s celebrated novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The story revolves around Francie's turn-of-the-century existence as the daughter of a two young impoverished first-generation Americans, one of German, the other of Irish decent.  Francie is a combination of her headstrong mother's strength and her alcoholic father's zest for life. As such, she becomes a very sensitive, intelligent and motivated young woman who goes on to pursue her dream to be a writer. After working hard as a young girl, surviving her beloved father's death, a broken-heart, and poverty, Francie grows into a young woman with unlimited potential.

"She was made up of all of these good and these bad things...She was the books she read in the library...Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie's secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father staggering home drunk...She was all of these things and of something more...It was something that had been born into her and her only."
Chapter 8, pg. 71

For these reasons Francie - and by proxy, her creator, Betty Smith (a true-to-life, non-fictional Brooklynite) are worthy of this week's honor.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

May 1988 and May 2008 Brooklyn College Images (New Images Added!)

Brooklyn College Bedford Overpass to the Upper Quad.
May, 1988

View of Upper Quad Looking towards Roosevelt Hall.
May, 1988

View of Upper Quad looking towards Lower Quad.
May, 1988

Twenty Years Later

View of the former site of the Upper Quad now know as the West Quad Project.

The former site of the Bedford Overpass.

A half a block North a new Bedford Overpass spans between Midwood High School's main building and its new Science Complex.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Word on the Street

Two different neighborhoods, same message.  I expect to see more from this artist (who demonstrates quite a flair for selecting the perfect setting for his/her pieces.) I'd appreciate any tips (or images) from my readers about other locations of this insignia.

Vote - Gravesend

Vote-East Flatbush


April 21, 2008: Alternate side of the street parking is suspended today for holiday observance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

God Save the Queen!

Her Royal Majesty.

     Several weeks ago I rebuked the claim made by the NY Observer's Chris Shott that Dianna Carlin, a fairly new Coney Island entrepreneur, was The Queen of Coney Island.  (That entry and a link to Shott's shoddy article can be found here.) I felt the need to admonish Shott because I am well acquainted with the true queen and I promised you then that I would provide an image of Her Royal Majesty.  I was really hoping that I would have found one of my old images of her. But, since that didn't happen (probably because those images are so old that they are stored on a 5.5 inch floppy!) I had to stop by to see her. Ah, I owed her a visit anyway.
    Well, to my dismay, I found Queen Grandma in the saddest condition ever. She has been given a makeover and apparently her stylist is big on the couture of the religious right.  (Rumor has it that Grandma began using the services of Tammy Faye Baker's former stylist shortly after Ms. Baker's death.)  Anyway, I am appalled!  HRM's bottle of Bacardi 151 and pack of Lucky Strikes have been replaced with strings of pearls and painted fingernails! I immediately protested to Deno's Wonderwheel employees Amos and Charlie.  They explained that they had had a slew of complaints about Grandma's indulgence in alcohol and tobacco because (as some people claimed) she wasn't a good image for the children.  
     I MEAN WTF??? What, did they forced her into some sort of "overcomers" rehab or something?  What is the world coming to when the Queen of Coney Island can't take a swig between readings? And, when the hell did the children of Coney Island become so damn precious-wecious that they can handle the sight of an old lady having a good time?
     Let's call this what it is.  Grandma is being forced to alter her image in acquiescence to the new hipster set (Ahem, Carlin, Shott and the rest of the "Let's-act-like-we're-just-carnie-lovin'-hipsters-but-we're-really-in-it-for-the-$$$" crew) converging on Coney Island.  As an act of resistance, I am waging an email campaign to the administration of Deno's Wonderwheel.  If you have any sense of justice, you'll join my crusade to Save the Queen from the wiles of middle class anxiety. (Pssssst: info@wonderwheel.com)
     Oh yeah, I sense a bit of sexism in these demands placed on HRM. While the queen can't so much as light a smoke after a hard day's work, the King of Coney drinks himself into a stupor every night and spends his days outside The Ghost Hole like this:
The King of Coney Island
I bet he too has few remarks for those who object to unsavory behaviour in CI!

Friday, April 18, 2008

THE VERY UNOFFICIAL 2008 Celebrate Brooklyn! Lineup @ Prospect Park

       A little birdy that I'll call Ro put this lineup in my inbox this morning.
     It all looks pretty good but I have to say that I am disappointed that Celebrate Brooklyn has to slip in another "buy ticket" show. How long can they hold on to the motto; "Keep it Great. Give $3 at the Gate"? There is also only has one movie listed... Drats!  But, overall we've got some good shows ahead this summer.

30th SEASON!!!


06/12/08 Isaac Hayes (Opening Night Gala)

06/14/08 Miriam Makeba

06/19/08 Medeski Martin and Wood, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog

06/22/08 Salif Keita
06/24/08 Gilberto Gil (Buy Tickets $35.00 - $60.00)

06/26/08 Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dixie Hummingbirds

06/27/08 Cold War Kids

06/28/08 Lyricist Lounge: Crooklyn Dodgers Reunion featuring MASTA ACE, O.C., JERU THE DAMAJA, CHUBB ROCK, BUCKSHOT of BLACK MOON

07/09/08 Feist (Buy Tickets $35)

07/11/08 Brazilian Girls
07/12/08 Beth Orton, Matt Munisteri & Brock Mumford

07/15/08 Spoon (Buy Tickets $32.50, $35 DOS)

07/17/08 Jerry Douglas, The Holmes Brothers

07/18/08 Deerhoof, Metropolis Ensemble: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring

07/19/08 Enter The Dragon with Karsh Kale, Soh Daiko

07/25/08 Philip Glass, Marta Topferova

08/01/08 The Knights, Christina Courtin

08/02/08 Father Goose, The Sippy Cups, Ariane Bass Bass Bass

08/03/08 Daby Toure
08/09/08 Hal Willner’s Bill Withers Project


From Patti Smith's website:

Steven Sebring's film "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival will premiere in NYC at the Film Forum. It is scheduled to run from 8/6/08 to 8/19/08.

A clip about the film from the Sundance Channel:

To view the actual "Dream Of Life" trailer click

I know it's a long way off but since PS has only european shows in the upcoming months, this is just about all of us fans can look forward to for now. Although, I guess we have this to hold us over:

Click here for another great r-n-r movie trailer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Featured Brooklynite of the Week.

     Ken Burns was born July 29, 1953 in Brooklyn, New York. Burns is the director and producer of documentary films. Among his most notable are The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001) and The War (2007). Burns has received two Academy and six Emmy Award nominations.  He ultimately won three Emmy awards to date.
     Burns earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College (aka "HEMPshire" to us other 5 college students) in Amherst, Ma in 1975.  He later received an honorary doctorate from Bates College in 2002.

Alan Dershowitz to speak at Brooklyn College May 7, 2008

Alan Dershowitz will be at Brooklyn College on Wednesday, May 7, to talk about his new book Finding Jefferson. The event will be in the Woody Tanger Auditorium of the Library at 4:00 PM. His talk is titled, "The 1st Amendment in the Age of Terrorism."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The New Flatbush Food Coop Unveils for Members

     The new Flatbush Food at 1415 Cortelyou Road got dressed up Saturday Night and was looking all kinds of sexy for Sunday's Members only pre-opening party. The official opening occurs this coming Thursday.  I got a chance to take a peek inside and it looks great.

     Co-op members enjoyed quiet a spread.

     On a bit of a sadder note, Wednesday will be last day that the Co-op will operate from it's original location at 1318 Cortelyou Road.  I know it's just a building,.. actually, it's just a storefront, but I'm still feeling sentimental about the whole thing. Sure, the new place deserves all the hoopla but I feel there should be a ceremony, some type of memorial service for the old place.  After all, the co-op was born in a forgotten area, in a neglected city in the late 70s - one of the most troubled times in our history.  That era left New Yorkers with bittersweet memories.  

     When the Co-op was founded the city was in its worst fiscal crisis to date. The federal government treated us like an unwanted stepchild when we were on the verge of fiscal collapse. Cops, sanitation workers and other city employees were laid off by the thousands a crime and urban decay emerged everywhere. Then, we experienced the Blackout of '77.  To some of our most marginalized looting seemed like a reasonable response to despair. We feared the infamous Son of Sam that same year and teenagers all over the city had no where to "get in on" because visiting lover's lanes made them Sam's targets.  Of course, there was the ongoing tension between the Punks and the Disco Aficinados.

Abe Beame, Mayor of NYC ('74-'77) displays a 1975 NY Daily News headline.

     Well, those are the bitter memories.  The sweet memories ones are just as profound.  Out of this era we saw the emergence of CBGBs which served as the delivery room for some of the greatest rock-n-roll of all time: Television, The Ramones, The Patti Smith Group, The Voidoids, The Talking Heads and Blondie among others. Further uptown Studio 54 was the place to see and be seen for celebs and wannabes. Over here in Brooklyn, we shared 54's Disco focus (although someone was always hollerin' Freebird.)  This borough's most famous club was 2001 Space Odyssey, the disco which served as the set for Travolta's famous dance in Saturday Night Fever.  Up in the Bronx, the Yankees were kicking ass on the field, taking the Series in '77.  

     ...And among it all a beautiful flower grew right up through the concrete in Victorian Flatbush.  To it's customers, the Flatbush Food Coop was like a warm bowl of comfort food during those hard times and thereafter. It is just another one of those miracles that evolves in this city despite fear and adversity.  

     So, Old Flatbush Food Co-op, since there has been no official memorial service in your honor, I will offer these lyrics to you:   

It is a special one, it's never seen the sun 
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It's growing in the street right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreamin' 
~from "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King

RIP Old Friend

Subscribe in a reader