Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Fresh Look

Hello, old fans. There have been several problems with the old design of this site, and as a way to simplify (as well as a way for me to practice my very basic CSS skills), I’ve given CHB a facelift.

I still have some work to do, like attributing old posts to the correct author, as well as restoring old embedded photos.

Yes, I am still homesick. But I love that whenever I’m back in the neighborhood I still run into someone I know.

Hope to see you around the Hill sometime soon.

xo

Comments Closed

It’s been nearly two years since we left Clinton Hill. While it’s important to me to keep the site up as an archive for the neighborhood, the site keeps being bombarded by spam comments which is apparently related to the site’s occasional crashing.

Occasionally, I do still receive a comment on an old post that is valid and related, but it’s just not worth it to deal with the spam/virus situation. So for now, all posts older than two weeks – which is all of them but this one – will be closed for comments.

Hope everyone is well.

xo- lesterhead

 

What's New, Clinton Hill?

Lesterhead here. I just now got around to updating our “About” page, to explain that daily posting ended in July 2010.

It’s been almost a year since I left the neighborhood. The homesickness was honestly heartbreaking for a long time, but I’ve slowly acclimated to a new setting. (In case you were wondering, we moved to Stuyvesant Heights.)

I was visiting friends back at the CH Co-Op this afternoon and realized how much has changed – new businesses on Myrtle (a Polish food restaurant!), organic produce at the Associated on Waverly, etc. But also, how much has stayed the same – the glorious magnolias!

Would love to hear from residents and old friends – what’s new in the nabe? What’s changed in the last year? What blogs are you reading these days?

xo- LH

Four Years of Clinton Hill Blog

I consider this date, July 19, to be the official anniversary of Clinton Hill Blog.  Four years ago today, I started this site thinking I’d do a few posts and then run out of things to write about.  What I didn’t know was that I was about to embark on an extraordinary journey that would teach me more than I ever thought I’d know about Clinton Hill, would introduce me to countless new friends and neighbors, many wonderful local business owners, and a fascinating community of bloggers throughout New York City.

One of my favorite early memories of writing this site was my first post about the Adelphi Station post office (apologies that the photos no longer work- lost in translation over platform changes and such). The response was an indicator that I wasn’t alone in my observations and that there was a real need for a local blog – a place for people to talk about the things they loved and the things they wanted to improve, a curiosity about local history and businesses both old and new, and a desire to connect to their community in a variety of ways.

Other favorite CHB memories include the tour of Kelso brewery, our tour of the set of Hammered, Tillie’s Community Mural “You Are Here,” our 2008 Buying Local Gift Guide for the holidays, CHB Interviews (the first was Kath Hansen, PUPS founder!), and this haunted house.

In the years since starting the site, I’ve taken on more challenging professional jobs that require much more of my time and energy, I’ve gotten married and earned a graduate degree. Over the last year especially, it’s been much more challenging to get a post up almost every single weekday, but I’ve been driven by my love for the neighborhood and the support of readers. Keeping CHB up has been even more difficult this last month, as Mr. Lesterhead and I have just moved to a bigger place, outside of Clinton Hill.

I feel strongly that local blogs be written by people living in the communities they write about.  Given our recent move and CHB’s fourth anniversary, today feels like a natural stopping point for the site, at least in its current incarnation.

Maintaining this site hasn’t always been easy.  Over the years the blogosphere has become more cut-throat and less of a collective support system, and occasionally a free-for-all for anonymous nasties (which has made it difficult some days to remember why I stated the site in the first place).  My goal for the site has always been sharing local stories and focusing on residents and businesses who have made a positive contribution to the neighborhood, and I think I’ve been mostly successful in maintaining that vision.  Despite many assuming that my vision has been journalistic, I’ve always thought of myself more as a non-fiction writer.

I find it hard to imagine that I would never post here again, so this is not necessarily goodbye forever or completely.  I don’t think I’d be able to stay away completely if I tried!  However, today will mark an end to regular daily posting.

For all of my loyal readers over the last four years, thank you so much for your support, tips and comments.

Your Shot at Bloody Mary Glory

During the summer of 2006, if you didn’t spend your Sunday afternoons at the Rope and you lived around here and were of legal drinking age, then I have three words for you:

Shame on you.

Not only was the gas grill out back being loaded down to the fullest with burgers, dogs, veggies and the like, but Matt Preis, aka “Max Power” was inside mixing up some of the best Bloody Marys around.

Now personally, I don’t drink Bloody Marys, but if you see the same people coming in, ordering the same thing and raving about them, they must be pretty excellent, right?

Over the past couple of years, Preis has taken on other neighborhood establishments with the “Max Power Bloody Battles” and tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Moe’s Bar & Lounge on Lafayette, he’s holding the first “Max Power Bloody Mixer,” which is open to the community.

I caught up with “Max” and here’s some of the background and details:

How did the idea for the Bloody Mary Battles come about?

The idea for Max Power’s Bloody Battle began when many of the bartenders on Myrtle started giving me [grief] because they kept hearing I had the best Bloody Mary in town—and they were jealous! Finally I organized a battle so we could put up or shut up. I lost by one vote but I still blame it on one person who didn’t show up—he usually drinks at least five! So Maggie Brown got lucky I say.

Our neighborhood is pretty chummy, I feel. What do you think the past contests have done for community spirit?

One unforeseen byproduct of these battles is that they are bringing together a lot of people who work in the industry and the patrons who all know them from separate places. And when we get together we all have a blast, proving that no matter where you go in a Brooklyn neighborhood you’re usually guaranteed a good time served up by good people. Especially in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, where I feel there is a huge camaraderie and mutual respect among restaurant/bar workers and their patrons.

What made you decide to hold an open competition this go-around?

I decided to host an open competition because I have been promising to do this since the competition began. When I started this, I didn’t know I would keep doing it, but once I realized I would do a whole round in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill I always knew I would open up one Battle to residents. In the end, we are looking to find the Queen/King of Bloody Mary for each neighborhood so it’s only fair to open it up to residents.

It’s coinciding with Moe’s ninth anniversary, right? Were they like, “Get Max Power in here to liven the festivities!”

I approached Moe’s with the idea and the date I randomly proposed happened to be on their anniversary. At first we thought we couldn’t do it because of the anniversary, but after a brief thought we realized that’s a perfect time to bring the neighborhood together.

And Matt, I hate to bring this up, but you haven’t taken home the title yet: What’s up with that?

The obvious and easy answer is that people are idiots! But actually, I am also a victim of messing with my mix in the second battle—I totally screwed it up trying to make it even better. And in the third battle I maintain that my mix suffered because I’m so busy organizing these things I had to make it at the last minute! Anyway, so far I’m always number two so look out ’cause I’m coming with guns blazing from here on!

So come drink your choice of the best Bloody Marys in Fort Greene/Clinton hill and if you are a resident and have the guts, bring a big can worth of mix and see if you can make it into the next round!

Lunchtime With Tillie: El Cofre

 

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“Kick, kick, kick: GOOOAAALLL!”

Hey everyone, it’s Van and Tillie with a special World Cup edition of Lunchtime With Tillie. The above phrase is a quote from T and it’s what she says whenever she sees any soccer on TV or is kicking a ball around the house. (She was introduced to the sport through an episode of “Dora the Explorer.”) I bring up Tillie’s love of soccer because it played a part in our dining experience at Dominican restaurant El Cofre, located on Myrtle Avenue.

It’s funny, but after being in the neighborhood for years I had only eaten there once before and that was during the Myrtle Avenue block party last year. I always walked by the place but never thought to give it a shot, and as it is, I hadn’t gone back since that day. The food was fine, but it just hadn’t reached “must-have-El Cofre” status, even though a couple of people have told me the pork chops there are amazing.

Now that I’ve given you that boring history lesson, let’s take it to the present day with our trip there. It started as any other LWT day: Tillie plays; she goes to sleep, which always seems to be later than usual on the days we’re going out for lunch; I sit around starving, hoping she wakes up soon so we can go out. When my little sleeping beauty finally did wake up, I was in full get-out-the-door mode, thinking of a place to go that’s accommodating proximity- and price-wise. So El Cofre it was.

We got there and only a couple of people were sitting at tables with a few people standing in line getting their orders to go. We took a seat and I asked the waitress for a high chair. It arrived and I set Tillie up in it—as best as I could because the buckle was broken. I just had to hope she wasn’t in the mood to hop up and down in the chair: It’s always the little things!

After looking at the menu, I decided to keep it pretty basic with the chicken, rice and black beans lunch special. For Tillie, I ordered some rice and beans.

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Habitat for Humanity Affordable Condos on Lafayette Ave (Sponsored Post)

(This is our second post in our Absolut partnership, and is written by contributor BonnyPrinceBilly who covered the event.)

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On Wednesday, June 9th at 517 Lafayette Avenue, a crowd of forty or so press and PR execs, Absolut reps, and several Brooklyn celebrities, including Brooklyn’s own Spike Lee, gathered to award Habitat for Humanity a check for fifty thousand dollars in front of a new Habitat for Humanity housing development located just over the Clinton Hill border. The event took place in conjunction with the launch of Absolut’s new “Absolut Brooklyn” flavored vodka.

Among the notables in attendance were Melvin Dick, senior vice president of Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Harvey R. Chaplin, owner of Southern Wine and Spirits, Josh Lockwood, Executive Director of Habitat-NYC, Al Vann, councilman for district 36 which represents Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

The new Habitat development itself is not scheduled to be ready for occupants until next year. New owners in the building must earn between 50% – 80% of the city’s area median ($38,757 to $61,440 for a family of four), and must be first-time home owners. While I’ve heard of Habitat’s famous houses before, this was the first time I saw one going up so close to home.  It’s inspiring to see more housing being built that will allow folks not making six figures a year the chance at that elusive NYC dream: home ownership.

Mr. Lockwood told the assembled crowd stories of Habitat-NYC’s recent successes, including the development of the site at 514 Lafayette Avenue. The current building will have four units of spacious, green-engineered, affordable housing. I asked a Habitat volunteer to describe the procedure for getting one of the units. She said you have to be under the maximum income requirement, but other than that they are first come, first served. The Habitat website states that the units will be condos and not rentals. This will be a great opportunity for first time homeowners, who will be required to work 300 hours on the building.  The requirement to actually work hands-on in the building of one’s own home is a great way for occupants to be directly involved in the history of their home.

Looking across the street at 505 Lafayette Avenue, where I lived for three years (with rats, roaches, and bed bugs), I could hardly believe so many important (and incredibly wealthy) people would be gathered on this stretch of sidewalk.

The best result of Wednesday’s media extravaganza is $50,000 for community building on a block that desperately needs it. Lafayette Plaza, where I lived, is a money mill for its landlords, who bought the place for a song in 2004 and did not bring it up to code before renting it at higher than market rates to the new wave of young people who are colonizing Brooklyn along the G line. My sense of disconnect from the media-event-in-a-bubble versus my lived reality of the block crystallized when, walking down the street after the event, a woman asked me what the fuss was all about. I said, “Spike Lee is down there promoting Absolute Vodka.” She said with a big smile, “Imagine that! Spike Lee on our block!”

 

My Brooklyn "Stoop" (Sponsored Post)

I am pleased to announce that Clinton Hill Blog has been selected as a partner site for Absolut Vodka’s launch of Absolut Brooklyn, a new apple-ginger flavor developed in partnership with Spike Lee that celebrates Brooklyn stoop life.

As part of today’s big launch, I’m supposed to share my “stoop story” with readers.  Problem is, I don’t have a stoop!  But I do have a courtyard, which is just as good in the Brooklyn sense.

When I moved to Clinton Hill, I was looking for the type of community that I always imagined existed in NYC but I hadn’t yet been able to find — a place where people said good morning to one another, and put down roots.  In my last building in Hell’s Kitchen, my neighbors wouldn’t even make simple eye contact with me, even though I looked at them hopefully every time, hoping we’d at least be able to smile and say hello.  And I certainly found that in Clinton Hill.

My building (and several others) face in toward a lovely courtyard with wooden benches and large, shady trees.  The benches are, as Brooklyn relaxation spots are known to be, reflective of the buildings and the neighborhood.  Every day, the old time residents set up shop to exchange neighborhood gossip.  New mothers sit rocking babies in the breeze.  Young people wait for their friends to meet up before heading out for some NYC adventure.  Whether you’re stopping to sit and chat or just passing through — on the way to do the laundry, get your heels fixed at the place across the street, or picking up some groceries — the courtyard is always a buzzing hive of conversation, fixed and in transit.  The courtyard has contributed to my tardiness on several occasions when I’ve run into a neighbor that I just have to stop and catch up with, and has also been a place where I’ve met new people. Just off of the courtyard, my neighbors and I have cheered on marathoners every November, sipping hot chocolate and hosting brunches.

I often have parties at my place, and my non-local friends always marvel at the fact that I actually invite neighbors.  If they’d spent any time in the courtyard, it would be obvious – we’re all working together to cultivate our co-op equivalent of the Brooklyn Stoop.  And it’s a really awesome asset to be able to share with my friends and neighbors.

Full disclosure: I received a bottle of ABSOLUT BROOKLYN and a pretty cool flip camera for writing about stoop life and stoop culture in Brooklyn! Any post displaying the Absolut seal is a sponsored post.

Lunchtime With Tillie: Manee Thai

 

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Greetings, all! It’s Van and Tillie with the latest in Lunchtime With Tillieness. This time, we’ve encountered a bit of a “sticky wicket” with detailing our latest midday meal, all courtesy of Manee Thai on Myrtle Avenue, more of which I’ll detail later. (Don’t worry, not too late: I know you have things to do besides read LWT all day!)

It all started on that recent day when it hit 90-something outside. I was tempted to just stay in, but the only thing to eat was shells and cheese, which I don’t think I’d eaten since I was T’s age. So off we went to get food and pick up some sunscreen for Tillie along the way with me being the multitasker and all.

We made our way down to Walgreen’s and after spraying some of the sunscreen on her, we started walking back toward the house. On our journey down Myrtle, we saw a few restaurants we hadn’t hit before and ended up choosing Manee Thai.

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Lunchtime With Tillie: Anima, Round 2

 

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Hey there, neighborhood of ours! Just when you were probably thinking, “Is Van ever coming back from his honeymoon?” here I am, with Tillie in tow. Excuse our absences, but in case you weren’t aware or missed that honeymoon reference a sentence ago, I was off getting hitched to Tillie’s mom, or as I sometimes like to refer to her now, “Mrs. Tillie’s mom.”

Anyway, we’re back and Tillie and I are ready to do more eating. And you’re about to witness something for the first time in LWT history: a return trip to a restaurant we’ve already visited, Italian restaurant Anima on Myrtle Avenue.

Why the return, you might ask? Well, Tillie and I have been to a LOT of the restaurants in the tri-neighborhood area, and for some of those back in the early days, her meals mainly consisted of blueberries or Cheerios. As she’s grown to become quite the gourmand, I thought it would be good to revisit from time to time some of the places she didn’t get to sample the goods. And if a restaurant is doing something new and different than from our original visit, all the better. Such was the case with Anima.

If it escaped you, the restaurant has installed a wood-burning oven and is now making pizza. My love for the pie and my intentions of bringing that feeling to Tillie are well documented, so I won’t go into the details about how excited I was to try their take on my favorite dish. Let’s just say when the dinner discussions around here come up, I had been suggesting to Tillie’s mom literally every night, “Hey, let’s try the pizza at Anima!” For whatever reason, it didn’t work, so it was up to me and T to make it happen. Continue reading