Fort Greene Park Conservancy Discounts

I only just recently learned that the Fort Greene Park Conservancy offered memberships, and members now receive discounts at several stores throughout Fort Greene and Clinton Hill through its new Merchant Loyalty Program. If you happen to frequent any of these places, it might be a money-saver to get the membership (levels range from $20-$250).

Greenlight Bookstore Turns One!

It seems like Greenlight Bookstore has been around for so much longer than it has, since it has quickly become a neighborhood institution known for great service, selection and ambiance.  But in fact, it is just about to turn one year old! Join the staff and supporters for a fun-filled evening:

Greenlight Bookstore To Celebrate One Year in Business

With Champagne Toasts at Anniversary Party on October 16

Greenlight Bookstore will celebrate the conclusion of one full year in business with a day of festivities on Saturday, October 16, 2010.  Two events, at 10:30 AM and 7:30 PM, will feature authors, refreshments, and special offers and announcements to help to mark this special day in the Fort Greene bookstore’s life.

On October 16, 2009, a Fort Greene neighbor – with exact change in cash – bought the first book from Greenlight Bookstore, and the store was officially in business.  The store’s launch party the following week hosted more than 300 excited fans for champagne toasts by Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Councilwoman Letitia James, local author Toure, and bookstore owners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting.

The opening was a fulfillment of the dreams of Bagnulo and Fitting, and of the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, as evidenced by a 2008 survey of residents that named "bookstore" as the number one retail need in the neighborhood.  The community has actively supported the bookstore during its first year through book purchases, word of mouth, event attendance, and praise for the store’s selection and staff.

An August 2010 New York Magazine article documented the rise of new independent bookstores in New York City, including Greenlight; the store opened its books to the magazine for the article, revealing better than expected sales figures. The store’s sales during 2010 are projected to exceed $1 million.

Greenlight will host a First Birthday Party for kids and families at 10:30 AM on Saturday, October 16.  Balloons and cake will be provided for kids, and many of the local children’s authors who have read at Story Time will be present for activities and celebration, including Elisha Cooper, Gilbert Ford, Maya Gottfried, George O'Connor, and others.

At 7:30 PM on Saturday, October 16, the store will host a One Year Anniversary Party for adults, with champagne and refreshments provided.  Bookstore staff and friends will read toasts written for the occasion by luminary authors who have appeared at the store during the past year, including Jennifer Egan, Nelson George, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Mitchell, Rick Moody, and Gary Shteyngart.  Neighborhood residents, including Paul Holdengraber of the New York Public Library and Johnny Temple of Akashic Books, will be present to offer their toasts as well.

Greenlight Bookstore will also use this celebration as an opportunity to unveil several new offerings, programs and services to be launched in the store's second year.  Partygoers are encouraged to RSVP on Greenlight’s Facebook page (which also contains updated information on featured authors), but all events are first come, first served.

CHB Reviews: Dino

The new restaurant that's taken the place of LouLou - Dino - is now open, and last night I checked it out with Kath Hansen of PUPS. I had only been to LouLou a few times, but Kath remarked on the "great reno job" on the inside.


The back yard was small and cute, clean and simple.


The bread had one of the most delicious dipping bowls I have ever encountered. The olive oil was enhanced with mashed olives, along with tiny pieces of orange rind for extra flavor.


Kath had the chicken, as she says "you can judge a restaurant by its chicken."  She gave it two thumbs up, for both quality and portion size (she took half of it home with her).


I had the rigatoni, also delicious and a generous portion.


And the icing on the cake: the staff overheard Kath mention that she was taking me out for my birthday and they brought me a gigantic piece of tiramisu on the house.


Service was wonderful- friendly and helpful staff, a great sounding selection of seasonal cocktails (we opted for the rose, which was crisp and great for summer -- but we think this place would be worth stopping in to for a fancy drink!), they already have liquor license and take credit cards (which is not so common for new restaurants in this neck of the woods).  Pricing was "around the same as LouLou," per Kath, but "better than LouLou."  Simply put from me: delicious food, great staff, and they have their sh*t together.

(Sorry, I didn't have my nice camera with me!)

Dino 222 DeKalb Ave

Chocolate Croissants: Provisions

Provisions offers a lovely variety of goods on Fulton at S. Portland in Fort Greene.  I love them for party meats and cheeses (delicious selection and great, helpful staff), but full on grocery shopping will break the bank.  In the front at the register, they also sell pastries and coffee. Chocolate Croissant:

chocolate croissant from provisions

Price: $2.50

Chocolate Distribution: Two rows of firm chocolate

Outside Appearance: Textured and matte

Description: I enjoy the double rows of chocolate, but the croissant is a little bit heavy.  Consistency is "bready." This is well-suited for someone who is looking for a heartier taste.

Score: 7.5

Friday Photo, Fort Greene History Edition

AMST_BreukelenScenes31 More than 350 years ago Brooklyn took its original name from that of Breukelen in the Dutch province of Utrecht on the Vecht River.  Here we see the earlier town's square.  Whereas our borough is now home to 2.6 million, Breuckelen still thrives at 15,000.  And, like Brooklyn being spooned into New York City in 1898, our Dutch namesake is going to be folded in to a nearby larger city.  (Courtesy Brooklyn Paper.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

A Bistro: YUM

Abistro on Carlton in Fort Greene is one of the tastiest restaurants in the area. a bistro

Hidden behind a simple white gate, you might have just passed by without noticing.  Don't let the exterior fool you.  This tiny, cozy space offers some of the most interesting food around, not to mention  some of the friendliest service. It's a family affair - chef and co-owner Abdoul Gueye mans the kitchen, while his wife serves patrons.  The couple's young daughter is often on hand, too.

It's also BYO, which helps save some cash, and communal table often spark discussion between diners who didn't arrive together.

I've recommended this place to many locals and people visiting from other neighborhoods who are looking for a unique dining experience. What's your favorite dish?

Abistro 154 Carlton at Myrtle

FABfest Schedule for June 27

FABfest Sunday, June 27, 12noon–6pm:• Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons • BK Misses MJ: On the anniversary of his passing, Brooklyn remembers the life and legacy of the King of Pop Michael Jackson with an all-day music tribute and community dance party featuring DJ Reborn • Readings and prizes from Brooklyn literary magazines A Public Space, Armchair/Shotgun, BOMB, and Electric Literature hosted by Greenlight Bookstore • Literary trivia contest • Dogs on Parade presented by Fort Greene PUPS and Brooklyn Cares Veterinary Clinic, plus Pet CPR and First Aid classes and Ask the Trainer sessions for pet owners • Crafts, activities and giveaways for kids all day • Streetside Mad Libs game for all ages • 3-on-3 Soccer Games for Kids hosted by Ft. Greene Soccer • SONYA Collaborative Action Mural with Ellie Balk - participatory painting allowing residents to make their mark on a collective community image • Environmental demos and activities presented by Habana Outpost (Schedules subject to change. To get updates, visit

Friday Photo, Fort Greene History Edition

1938_MarianAnderson_011 Pivotal in the march of African Americans toward human rights was Marian Anderson, a contralto of "intrinsic beauty." Only once did she appear in opera, preferring recitals or concerts. When she sang at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1938, the hall announced “Standing Room Only.” That was just a year before Eleanor Roosevelt asked her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial after the DAR refused her entry to Constitution Hall in Washington. (Courtesy BAM.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

CHB at Greenlight Bookstore

Fulton Street's Greenlight Bookstore has been hosting a blogger / author pairing once a month that pairs a local blogger with an author whose subject matter or writing style matches nicely for a discussion.  I've been invited to lead a discussion with Maggie Pouncey, Fort Greene resident and author of Perfect Reader on Monday, July 12.  We'll be discussing literary fandom, urban “small town” life, and Brooklyn’s writing culture. I'm very excited to be a part of this event, especially since I so admire Greenlight's friendly staff, great selection and customer-friendly hours.  Hope you'll join us!

More info available on Facebook.

Summer Events at Fort Greene Park

The Fort Greene Conservancy just emailed me a poster detailing their summer events. There's lots of stuff here for kids, but most intriguing to me are the September performance by Reggie Watts (NY Mag just profiled him) and the Urban Bat Exploration (cool!).  I'm sure the Whitman tour (only one left!) will also be good.  I love seeing such a variety of entertainment and education right here at our doorstep.

Pianos in Fort Greene Park

Non-profit organization Sing for Hope just launched Play Me, I’m Yours, a public art project that brings 60 pianos to the parks and public spaces of New York City. Fort Greene Park now has two pianos--one on Myrtle (at the Myrtle entrance to the Fort Greene Park) and another just up the hill at the north oval, just opposite the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. The piano is open and available for anyone to sit and play until Monday, July 5th.  I always wanted to learn how to play the piano, but sadly never did.  However, I was in choir, so maybe we can organize a little sing-along?  Who's game?  I'm thinking CHB meets Marie's Crisis.


Friday Photo, Fort Greene History Edition


For the cause of their country, these naval personnel gave up their limbs during World War I. With its extensive medical facilities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard along Wallabout Bay, the Naval Hospital fitted returning amputees with prostheses designed up to that period. (Courtesy National Archives, the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

Friday Photo: Fort Greene History Edition

Employees-Women-First-Day-12 Before electronic surveillance gates, these "Rosie the Riveters" -- first-ever women to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II -- had to open their handbags for security reasons. Assuredly the guards found nothing more sinister or explosive than a mirror, lipstick, sanitary pads and bobby pins.  In all, the Navy Yard workers jumped from 10,000 in 1938 to some 70,000 by war's end. (Courtesy National Archives, the Brookyln Navy Yard.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

Friday Photo: Ft Greene History Edition

bottles1 Arrival of water mains, sewers and flush toilets in the 1860s created a new use of outdoor privy pots as spots for trash. All these bottles are more than four score years old, from deep down. The small bottle was the type usually contained bitters, heavy with alcohol, which women often used for cramps.  If a lot of those in a privy pit, you knew that Mama was a tippler.  Sunny Brook Rye at left, from Prohibition days, states that it is 50% alcohol by volume -- “For medicinal purposes.” Yeah, sure! As they’d say: “First ‘ya swaller, then ‘ya holler.” (Author's photograph.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

Friday Photo: Ft Greene History Edition

A local resident for nearly 30 years and one-time chair of the Fort Greene Association, Howard Pitsch recently published a fascinating pictorial history of the neighborhood.  For the next six Fridays, we'll be posting images from his book.  The Local will also feature some of the book's photography, but CHB will be posting its own unique set of imagery from the book. vandergaw2

Horses, the unrequited and often abused heroes of wagons and carriages, did not pose for this picture when everyone had to "freeze" for the slow shutter speed.  In 1860, Vandergaw was at the junction of Fulton Street and DeKalb Avenue, probably where the Dime Savings Bank stands today. The buildings in the background are not identified, although the center one would appear to be a church.  (Courtesy Roger Whitehouse collection.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online: