Monthly Archives: May 2009

TOMORROW: Free Shuttle Between BK Flea and other BK Destinations


The Brooklyn Flea has become a hotspot for NYC bargain hunters near and far. This Saturday, May 30, Brooklyn Flea visitors can score another deal: Heart of Brooklyn’s FREE hop-on, hop-off shuttle to the cultural attractions near Grand Army Plaza will be running from the Flea in Fort Greene between 10am and 6pm. The HOB Connection stops at Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park/Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Children’s Museum. A full schedule with times can be found at http://heartofbrooklyn.org/connection. The Connection will depart the Flea at 10am, 12:30pm, 2pm and 4pm on Saturday.

More than just free transit, the shuttle features on-board tour guides providing information about the restaurants and shops in nearby Prospect and Crown Heights, summer calendars with suggested activities and coupon books full of local discounts (also available to print online at http://heartofbrooklyn.org/couponbook).

The HOB Connection regularly offers free transit to the cultural attractions in the Heart of Brooklyn from various neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, DUMBO and Williamsburg) each Saturday, and from Manhattan’s Museum Mile each Sunday.

Children's Art, Framed at a Discount

Have an artistic kid?  The Clinton Hill Simply Art and Framing has just informed me of a special framing sale.

CLINTON HILL SIMPLY ART AND FRAMING
INTRODUCTORY SALE – Custom Picture Framing Offer

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Bring any children’s artwork now thru June 30
40% off regular price*

Children’s Art Only
Please no substitutes

Cherish the Moments

*Select samples only

Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm

583 Myrtle Avenue (near Classon)
Brooklyn, NY 11205
718-857-0074

We truly custom frame
Est.1991

Cornelius

Recently, some friends and I decided to scope out the neighb’s newest bar, the whiskey-intense Cornelius, located at 565 Vanderbilt Ave (Haha. Get it?).

It was a weeknight and the place was relatively empty, but entirely pleasant in décor and libations, if not exactly the arbiter of the best service ever (we had to call our waiter over several times). That said, the menu was pretty amazing, offering an extensive list varied whiskeys, flavored vodkas and original cocktails.

We ordered a lot of cocktails and found them all to be quite delicious. My favorite was the Smoked Pineapple Margarita, which was just sweet enough. Another friend was quite impressed with the Sparkling Pear. The only place where I’d mark them down is that while they could make me a plethora of fanciful designer cocktails, they couldn’t fulfill my order for a plain old Rusty Nail. Why not? No Drambuie. Poor form, guys.

On the food front, since we stopped by on a Monday, we were treated to $1 Oysters. Beyond that, the prices at Cornelius are unfortunately on the steeper end.

All and all, this place is definitely worth stopping by for a classy cocktail and some atmosphere. It seemed like the few issues encountered are just opening/growing pains for a spot that will most likely prove to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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Amaretto Sour

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The Smoked Pineapple Margarita

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Sparkling Pear

Here’s more info , including a sneak peak of the menu.

Giant Store on Fulton / S Portland?

Received this info from a reader:

Fulton Street’s  recently closed Ralph’s Internet Cafe and an ambiguous but previously Habana-affiliated  long-empty store-front on South Portland have apparently been merged into what appears to be a large single retail space, stretching around Not Ray’s Pizza. No sign who owns it, but apparently they like bright green.These photos are looking in from South Portland, towards Fulton.

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Part of this storefront used to be The Stroll, operated by Habana Outpost.  Anyone have an inside scoop?

Avoid Using IE For Now

A few readers have told me that CHB has some sort of spyware situation going on.  Since I use a Mac and Firefox, I had no idea.

Until we get the potential problem fixed, using Firefox should prevent any spyware problems.  Please avoid Internet Explorer.

CHB Interviews: Jason Voegele of Republic

Local art collective Republic will be hosting a fundraising event at Le Grand Dakar this Friday!  Proceeds will go to the Gisimba orphanage in Rwanda, which sees that its children attend school and become prepared to lead independent lives.  Info is below, as well as an interview with Jason Voegel of Republic!

As the first in our ongoing REACHING OUT program of recurring charitable fundraising projects, REPUBLIC and CREATE FOR A CAUSE are working together to involve our local communities and New York City at large in a campaign to keep Gisimba Memorial Center equipped with the basic necessities it requires to stay in operation and to help provide the children who live there with basic healthcare, food and education. The proceeds from the campaign will also be distributed through the Memorial Center to support sustainable revenue generating projects within the Kigali community.

Friday, May 29th at Le Grand Dakar Restaurant in Clinton Hill Brooklyn, REPUBLIC will be hosting an extraordinary evening of celebration and fundraising with dance performance, music by Indoda Entsha percussion ensemble, food by master chef Pierre Thaim and drinks with a silent auction and exhibition of photography by contemporary Rwandan artists.

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Jason Voegele of Republic

1. Jason, how long have you lived in the neighborhood?

I’ve been in this neighborhood with infrequent absence since 1991.

2. What brought you to Clinton Hill?

I went to high school overseas in Taiwan. The President of Pratt Institute at that time went on a tour of the international school systems in south east Asia and because I had already been very dedicated to making a run at a career in the arts and my dream was to move to NYC, he invited me to come to Clinton Hill and pursue my interests at Pratt. Until the day I moved here I had never been to New York City. So Clinton Hill was my introduction to NYC as a whole.

3. What has been the biggest change you’ve seen since moving here?  Has it been a good change or a bad one?

Well obviously the standard of living has increased tenfold. Back in 91 there were very few social gathering points in the neighborhood outside of the school. Most people I knew spent their free time in the emerging Williamsburg community or in Manhattan. Over the years as the neighborhood grew, all of the community staples began to pop up. Places like Tillies and 5 Spot set in motion the big boom in restaurants and bars and coffee shops that lured people back to our neighborhood. Good community politics were at work too, getting rid of the crack dealers, reinvesting in the community school systems, fixing up streetlights and finding investors to fix up all the beautiful homes on Washington and Clinton were all huge steps in progress that were undeniably good.

4. You were once involved in Artspace NYC, based in the neighborhood.  What was that organization about?

ArtSpace was conceived by Lauren Culbreth, Sean Mcloughlin and myself in late 2006 at 20 Grand Avenue between Flushing and Park. It was a great opportunity to experiment with a traditional gallery space in creative and inventive new ways. We produced about 23 or so exhibitions and events during our time there. Sean left the group in early 2008. Almost all of our exhibitions were in conjunction with local and national charitable organizations such as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation or the Brooklyn Center Against Domestic Violence. The purpose was to try and engage our community through a marriage of our creative talents and the common concerns and passions of our fellow Brooklynites. We wanted to infuse our community with the same energy that turned DUMBO and Williamsburg in to models of the art world experience but do it in a different way. Our audience was diverse and became an unlikely opportunity for various individuals and social groups to come together on a regular basis when there would be no reason for them to meet otherwise. The quality of the exhibitions was the first priority. Once we managed to control that we really began to reach out and participate in the re-emerging art community in an exciting way. Through ArtSpace, Lauren and I produced film festivals, a young curator program, mixed media exhibitions and really cut our chops on production in those years. Eventually we gave up our gallery space and began to develop relationships with other venues and organizations to execute our projects at various locations throughout the city. Our collaborations with the Brooklyn Art Collective and several other very talented groups really helped to bring shape and form to the tranformation that turned ArtSpace into Republic.

Very quickly we realized that if we built a strong diverse team we could tackle multiple projects simultaneously and produce projects that we never could have done on our own. One by one the perfect people walked in to the picture at the right time and Republic was born.

5. The group has relaunched itself as Republic Brooklyn.  How many people are involved, and what are the goals of the organization?

Well, the official name of the organization is Republic Worldwide with subdivisions in various locations. It is through the founding group, Republic Brooklyn that we drafted our mission and developed the formulas for our various projects. Republic AU based out of Sydney, Australia will be following up Republic Brooklyn very shortly when the go live in the fall. We are also working with a team in Manchester, England to launch Republic UK. The original founding members were Drew Kassl, Samantha Katz, Aubrey Almond, Lauren Culbreth, Konah Weisel, Ian McGivellry, Tyler Wriston, Jason Isch, Charles Merritt and myself. There are many other members that are active within the group in various other capacities. Specifically Marissa Forbes and Douglas Antonio are involved daily.

Republic was conceived as an assembly of individual artists, designers, entrepreneurs and representatives from autonomous art organizations, who have come together to produce exhibitions and events that transcend the sum of their unique parts. The principles of Republic fundamentally reflect the same ethical charter, dedication, and standard of quality that creative and critically thinking fraternities have organized themselves around for eons. We want to inspire like-minded people in varied communities through high caliber artistic programs, community service and creative curatorial projects. Our personal goals are to strengthen the character of our individual members by providing meaningful opportunities for fellowship, charity, creativity and leadership. We are trying to build something new so – much like Clinton Hill, we are constantly evolving and adapting new ideas.

6. How can local artists get involved with the organization?

Come and find out about all of the interesting things we do and find information about all of our members and collaborators at www.republicbrooklyn.com.

We are on all of the usual networking sites as well. Submissions for specific projects or collaborative ideas should be directed to info@republicbrooklyn.com

Come meet us this Friday May 29th at Le Grand Dakar on Grand Avenue between Lafayette and Clifton Place for our fund raiser collaboration with Create For A Cause. Dance, Music and Art with a silent auction to benefit the Gisimba Memorial Center Orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda

7. Is Clinton Hill a good neighborhood for artists to live and make a living?  Why or why not?

Well as someone who spent the majority of his time in Clinton Hill as a struggling artist, the neighborhood has always been a melting pot of creative energy. However, for the longest time everyone I knew worked in the city (Manhattan) and lived in Clinton Hill. It’s really great to see so many new neighborhood based businesses and organizations emerge over the last several years. When ArtSpace NYC was operating our gallery out of 20 Grand we were amazed at the diversity and numbers of the other creative productions blooming all around us. I think there is a sense now among all of the Clinton Hill community that something has changed for the better. It’s a feeling that the community is getting stronger by working together.

8. What’s your favorite local hangout?

Although the germ for Republic has been tossing around in my head for years it was at Vesper Bar & Lounge on Myrtle Avenue that open conversation about forming the group and the induction of the various members of the board occurred. So that place rocks. I’ll tell you what though, Le Grand Dakar and Brooklyn Public house are my new two summertime favorites.

9. Would you change anything about the neighborhood if you could?  If so, what?

You know I really think this neighborhood is in a constant state of evolution. It’s really a shining example of a neighborhood getting it’s act together over a long patient time. I think we are on the right track and any things I could ever want to change about Clinton Hill could easily be achieved through continued collaboration and partnerships among the people in our community.

10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?

I would be the cone. Somebody has to be.

Seriously though pistachio is my game. I think I was asked this question once in a job interview.

Clinton Hill Buildings and Homes

This beautiful neighborhood of ours shouldn’t be called Brownstone Brooklyn. Sure, we’ve got those row houses made of brown stone that often have big stoops outside and high ceilings detailed with crown molding and ornate touches inside. But we have more than that- Clinton Hill architecture is as diverse as the borough of Brooklyn itself.

Let’s take a look at the outside of some of the neighborhoods most well-maintained and architecturally interesting structures.  Clinton Hill boasts Victorian brownstones, Italianite town houses and mansions and charming “antebellum frame houses,” according to The New York Times.  The following examples make for a lovely self-guided walking tour!

My favorite street in Brooklyn used to be State Street, which runs from Brooklyn Heights through Boerum Hill. It’s a gorgeous street that’s lined with trees and boasts a variety of row houses: brownstones, brick three or four story homes, newly renovated row houses with modern facades and even clapboard single family homes. But once I moved here I discovered an even better street, and it’s only 2 blocks long. Cambridge Place.

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Typical to Cambridge Place are narrow three-story homes like this one. What I like about the building is the clean lines of the windows and frames made clear by the contrasting yellow and slate blue paint. Also, the ivy-covered brick wall with gate attached to the side of the home gives the property a European feeling. Through the gate is a vineyard. (Not really). Check out the stained glass in the windows.

Cambridge Place is a smorgasbord of homes.

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Across the street is this recently renovated and added onto stand-alone house. Three stories with lots of windows and a front porch- this is a real beauty. The stark white color is also interesting. In a city made of glass and brick, when wood presents itself it is often painted a color. Not here. I like the simplicity of it.

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Many homes on Cambridge Place stand together in two’s. I’m not sure of the history and reasoning behind this architecturally but I think it just made sense to build a bigger structure and have one side mirror the other. It makes for a beautiful contrast.

St. James Place, one block south of Cambridge Place, also features narrow three-story homes. St. James, home to Biggie Smalls (near Fulton Street) has particularly interesting painted buildings. See this yellow home:

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and this brown-tinged home with blue trim and a red door:

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Clinton Hill is also home to “the first multi-family apartment building in Brooklyn.”

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The Vendome, built in 1887, is on the corner of Grand Avenue and Gates Avenue. It is a beautiful 6-story building. Research did not turn up any documents confirming the claim above but there were many articles from the 80s in The New York Times about the building.

Across the street from the Vendome are 2 structures, with 2 separate homes in each. These buildings all feature beautiful covered porches held up by columns and are made of stone. They remind me of Italy.

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For more images of buildings around Clinton Hill, (including Broken Angel on Downing Street), click here.

Please alert us to other buildings in the neighborhood worthy of mention! I certainly didn’t even scratch the surface.

Which are your favorites?

CHB Interviews: Cassidy Vare, Bespoke Bicycles

A few weeks ago, we announced the opening of Bespoke Bicycles on Lafayette.  We spoke with owner Cassidy Vare about his new business and cycling in the city.

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1. When did you decide to open a bike shop?  How did you pick Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene?

I’ve been dreaming of opening my own shop for years now. I wasn’t going to do it this year, but I got laid off from another shop in October, and decided that, perfect time or not, I had to do my own thing, the way I’ve always wanted to. In a way, getting laid off was the best thing for me.

The location was a bit of an accident. It used to be a car service, and it wasn’t until after I’d already moved in that I realized how perfect it was to reclaim a storefront from the clutches of cars and turn it into a bike shop. I’d been looking at Fort Greene for a while, and I always pictured a spot on Dekalb or somewhere nearby. But when it came to walking the neighborhood and looking at spaces, this one was the only one I saw. The price was right, the space was small but “just enough.”

2. How long have you been cycling?

I guess it’s been about seven years now, since I first moved to Brooklyn. I got a crappy mountain bike just to get from middle-of-nowhere (at the time) Red Hook to anywhere else. Well, that bike got stolen pretty quickly, and it wasn’t until I had the second bike that I figured out how much I liked not only riding it, but also taking it apart and figuring it out. It wasn’t long after that before I started working in a shop, and I haven’t thought much about doing anything else since.

3. What’s your personal history?  Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I was born in Colorado and grew up in Connecticut, and I was in and out of NYC from the age of ten. I knew pretty early on that this was the place for me, and when I was nineteen I moved here to go to Hunter College. New York (and even more so, Brooklyn) is the first place I really feel at home so far in my life. However, I did get a little burned out on the city after a few years, and decided to ride my bike to Seattle WA, to visit some folks and see what the west coast was like. I ended up meeting Kim, the woman who’s now my wife, there, so I’m obviously really glad I went, but I can’t say that Seattle itself agreed with me. I convinced Kim to move back with me, and we now live down in the ambiguous region between Park Slope and Sunset Park.

4. Do you see bikes as an important part of neighborhood (and city) culture?

They’re absolutely vital. For me, a bike is the fastest (and cheapest) way to get almost anywhere in the city. A year’s worth of Metrocards will cost over $1200. That same $1200 will buy a very fine bicycle that will last much longer than a year. But more importantly, a bicycle is a powerful social tool. You’ll see things riding a bicycle from one place to another that you’d never see taking the train. You can also stop to chat with the people you pass every day. I learned the geography of Brooklyn from riding a bike. I learned who lives where. Bikes change the way we live–they bring us down to a human scale, and they remind us what it’s like to be people around other people.

5. What kinds of services are you offering at the shop?

We are a full-service repair shop–we’ll fix your flat, or take your bike apart and put it back together. My goal is always to make a bike better than it was when it came in. Of course, we sell things too. We have a line of Raleigh bikes, a stock of parts of all types, and accessories to make it easier to use your bike every day, for every purpose.

6. Explain the shop’s name.

Well, this follows up nicely. We are also here to build up bikes to order. The word ‘bespoke’ isn’t too popular here in the US, but it’s an English word meaning ‘custom-made’ or ‘made to order.’ It’s used mostly to refer to clothing and of course has the connotation of highest quality. I’d like to think that I can offer all of that in a bicycle. I’m here to provide exactly the bicycle that each client wants. I’ll start with the frame that best fits your needs and go from there. This can be an affordable process, but depending on what you want the bike to do or to look like, the only limit is physics.

7. Many of us grew up riding bikes and then left them behind as we became teenagers and adults.  For someone looking to hop back on after years of hiatus, what kind of bike do you recommend?

Well, my first answer is: Any bike at all! Whatever bike you choose will be so much better than no bike at all that it’s hard to compare! But if I don’t let enthusiasm carry me away, there are some practical concerns. If you’re in the market for a bike, first of all look for one that works. I’ve seen too many people come into shops with about three-quarters of a bike they’ve just bought for $50, hopeful that we can make it work. It’s more expensive in the long run than paying two or three times as much up front for a bike that works properly.

8. Favorite place to ride to in the city:

I like the section of the west side bike path in Manhattan, above 79th Street up to the north tip of the island. Not many people ride that far north, so it’s peaceful, and much prettier than below 79th St. I also really like riding the Rockaways.

9. Favorite hangout in the neighborhood:

The folks at the Smoke Joint are great, and it’s conveniently right next door to the shop! I like Bonita and The General Greene a lot too. My friend lives on Quincy Street–does her house count?

10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?

Jamocha Almond Fudge. Because it’s amazing.