Park Slope Slothful


Not far from the truth. The above illustrated life forms could actually be my neighbors; a universal blend of seasoned or fledgling globetrotter and vagrant, hippie and hipster, with a dash of intellectual eccentric and a splash of moronic ne’er-do-well. I’m happy that my wife and I only live here, within our own fashionable self-exile amongst a horde of exiles. Naturally, we keep the doors and windows tightly locked and bolted.

Source: Gothamist


I Feel Pretty…Bored


Before I forget (which I’ll do presently), Mallory Hagan aka Miss New York  has been crowned Miss America 2013. Of course, she’s obviously gorgeous, ostensibly talented, and I’m sure she’s a sweet gal. What’ more, Mallory, who hails from Alabama, now hails from right here in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Maybe I saw her once or twice around the neighborhood without even knowing it; there are so many obviously gorgeous, ostensibly talented, sweet gals in Park Slope that I probably didn’t notice our future Miss New York among our everyday aesthetic crowd.

Now You Hear It, Now You Don’t

For our latest mission 23 actors and 2 dogs infiltrated a public space and went on “mute” at coordinated intervals. The mission took place near the northern entrance to Prospect Park in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The Mute Button was produced by Improv Everywhere as part of the Guggenheim Museum exhibition stillspotting nyc.

I happen to live in this region of the world and, as fate would have it, was there in Prospect Park at the time walking Morris, my pet crocodile. I failed to notice anything unusual going on until I found this clip on You Tube.

stillspotting nyc

What’s Newly Old in Park Slope?

Here in Park Slope (Brooklyn) residents cherish their brownstones. They love the atmosphere of voguish antiquity that lends a unique beguilement to each moldering brick and creaky facade enduring along each fusty street. In this once-upon-a-time and now steampunkish neighborhood, well-heeled residents can bask in the afterglow of Victorian Age detachment while the rest of the city either rises in high-tech hyperbole or goes to hell in a mismanaged hand-basket.

When it comes to Victorian Age basking, what better way to bask but beneath the light of glittering gas lamps? For over twenty years, realtors have been successfully fobbing off these lamps as authentic. Prospective buyers often jumping at the chance to reside in brownstone bliss along with all the trimmings. Unfortunately, these lamps aren’t circa late 19th century…they’re more like circa mid 20th century.

“They’re not historic and they’re certainly not historically accurate,” said John Casson, a member of Park Slope Civic Council’s Landmarks Committee, who opposed the request for the new lamp. “A, They’re not authentic, B, they don’t give much light, and C, they waste energy. They just look silly.”

Casson called the lamps a “cheesy Disneyfication.”

He noted that most Park Slope brownstones were built around 1883, a period when the streetscape was nearly entirely empty of decoration, he said. Most brownstones were surrounded by nothing but “boring bluestone,” he said.

The present-day gas lamps were in fact installed in 1960 by the Brooklyn Union gas company. By that time, Park Slope (along with surrounding neighborhoods) was becoming a dismal, impoverished land; in short, a slum. Brooklyn Union purchased and renovated a number of brownstones as a last ditch effort to stem the tide of suburban-bound residents. It didn’t work, but the gas lamp legend would reemerge in the 1980s with gentrification: a marvelous restorative drive that brought about today’s urban-bound tide.

Within the confines of our own ancient brownstone, locked within the embrace of olde world charms and new age realities, my wife and I contemplate the current economy. But what the hell! We have our nearby streetlamp to keep us warm. So what if it’s only a paper moon?
Source: DNA Info

Fresh From The Sea Amidst Brownstones

Brooklyn may not lack great food but it lacks great fish. That’s what a couple in Brownstone, Brooklyn believes and have responded to this fishy demand with a fishy supply.  Mermaid’s Garden Sustainable Seafood offers its members fresh-from-the-sea deliveries from Montauk and Cape Cod in an effort to “reconnect coastal communities to their food system.”

In a setup that closely resembles the borough’s community-supported agriculture groups, participants can buy “shares” of fish and shellfish available for pickup at three locations: Palo Santo restaurant in Park Slope, the Red Hook community-supported agriculture group, and Green Hill Food Co-op in Clinton Hill.

Included among the catches of the day will be bass, tuna, skate, or whatever participating fishermen haul in, at prices starting from $99 for six 1.25 lb. pickups.

You know? Things are really going retro if communal around here.

Source: The Brooklyn Paper

Tight Parking In Park Slope

In Park Slope, Brooklyn, we take our parking seriously; there’s so little of it to be found. While most residents here enjoy the Victorian charm of brownstone life, the 19th century quaintness at 21st century exorbitance, they would prefer the like of a Lexus over a horse-and-buggy.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans of mice, men, and the socially elite are often thwarted and restricted by the realities of the commonplace world. Alas, when a Park Sloper takes his/ her aforementioned Lexus for a spin around the block, that ornate motorist upon returning may spend the next two hours spinning around many blocks searching for a place to park.

You see, Park Slope has something in common with many other Brooklyn neighborhoods—it’s newly resurrected (or gentrified) and very old; at least 100-150 years old. While this may give the place its historical charm, the absence of driveways isn’t as charming: there wasn’t much thought given to automobile traffic circa 1890.

A couple years ago, in an effort to alleviate these parking woes, a novel solution was introduced: “Roadify.” Blending new age technology with that old-fashioned (often elusive) kindness of strangers, Roadify is a social networking service (a “transportation Twitter,” as its founder Nick Nyhan calls it) that will have drivers notify other drivers of available or imminently available parking spaces throughout Park Slope.

The system works like an automatic phone tree. A driver prowling the Slope for a spot pulls out his cell phone and texts “Get” to 95495, which activates the system. Any parking spaces that have become available in the last 15 minutes will be sent in a text response — and if any others are entered in the system in the following 15 minutes, they will be sent as well.

Only 460 people are currently signed up (as of 12/29/09) for the system, useful only during the prime time parking hours of 4 pm to 8 pm, according to Nyhan. However, with the availability of a mere 150 parking spaces over the course of day, at Roadify’s peak usage time, the problem remains largely unsolved. “According to a 2007 study, nearly half of the cars on Seventh Avenue are simply looking for a parking space.” Brooklyn Paper

To add to an already difficult situation, doormen at posh buildings along Prospect Park (which borders Park Slope) are suspected of saving parking spaces for paying tenants. They do this by intentionally parking a spot and a half, inching cars forward to make room for other residents’ vehicles. This half-space parking assault has met with some heated if futile resistance from neighborhood vigilantes:

A slew of motorists near Prospect Park West discovered two-page notes on their windshields last week, bashing them for disrupting the unspoken code of the street by leaving un-parkable half-spaces in front of and behind their cars.

“Your excessive use of parking space may or may not have been your fault,” the flier declares. “But leaving more space than necessary can deprive another driver of a parking spot.”

The detailed — but totally unofficial — “citations” have prompted strong reactions from neighbors who loathe, love, and are laughing at the Dirty Harry of the parking world. Brooklyn Paper

In the end, if you’re going to live in a neighborhood such as Park Slope, your days of motorized individuality will be restricted by the limitations of the community; there never will be enough parking spaces for everyone here. Unless you’re willing to pay for a taxi or car service every time you’re struck with a fancy to travel somewhere, you’d be better off traveling there with public transportation.

My beautiful Ford Mustang is currently parked outside my house beneath a weeping cherry blossom tree. Car and tree make such a pretty picture that my wife and I are content to stay at home, for as long as possible, and enjoy the tranquil if static view.

Exiting Eyesore Master

Peter Saltini was a galling oddity amidst the stylish dynamics of Park Slope, Brooklyn. He either possessed an unfathomably sardonic sense of humor or was unfathomably off his rocker. And even though many of my best friends (and neighbors here in Park Slope) possess similarly unfathomable talents, there’s usually a redemptive method to their humor and madness…in Saltini’s case, redemption was replaced with damnation.

Nonetheless, Saltini could have been as wild and crazy as the wildest and craziest loon, as viciously antisocial as the betrayed Timon of Athens, if he had properly maintained his building at 174 Garfield Place; thus, displaying an obligatory respect for his neighbors as well as for  himself. Instead, many years ago the marvelous Saltini skipped town and moved to an undisclosed location in upstate New York, allowing his house to disintegrate: an eyesore of abandonment.

For decades, Park Slopers cajoled and besieged Saltini with requests and demands to sell his once-immaculate brownstone that, year after year, was crumbling apart…to no avail. In fact, the more his building amassed dozens of building code and safety hazard violations, the more adamant he became in refusing to sell.

“Let them complain,” Saltini, an upstate resident, said in April. “I’ve been a big contribution [!] to the quality of life [!] on that block and all I get from the neighbors is grief. I’ve been here since 1969 and dealing with these people has made my skin thick.”

Then, just when hope seemed to be forever lost, not only hope but a miracle emerged: Saltini had finally given up and sold the property.

Neighbors don’t know why owner Peter Saltini gave up and sold the beleaguered building at 174 Garfield Pl. — which garnered plenty of attention from angry neighbors and councilmen due to its dozens of building code violations and safety hazards — but they don’t seem to care, now that Saltini’s realtor says that the new owner is “involved in the community” and wants to fix the place up.

But you just have to love Saltini’s claim that he’s “been a big contribution to the quality of life on that block.” If his idea of a contribution is an eyesore such as 174 Garfield Pl., this screwball would be apt to view the like of Beverly Hills as a ghetto.

It makes you wonder: What does Saltini plan on “contributing” to his upstate NY neighborhood?

(originally posted: 07/30/10)