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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Events, Kids

Brooklyn Book Festival Next Sunday, September 21

September 13, 2014

The ninth annual Brooklyn Book Festival will be on Sunday, September 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m at Borough Hall and Columbus Park (immediately north of Borough Hall). There will be readings by and discussions with writers, readings and activities for children, and books for sale. There’s more information here.

During the coming week and the Monday following the Festival there will be “Bookend” events held in various venues around the Borough. Among these venues are Book Court, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Historical Society, DUMBO Sky, the Powerhouse Arena, Smack Mellon Gallery, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, St. Ann’s School, and Vineapple. A full schedule is here.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Celebrity Residents

Elizabeth Gaffney, at BHS, Reads, Talks About Bygone Brooklyn Heights

August 6, 2014

Novelist and Brooklyn Heights resident Elizabeth Gaffney was at the Brooklyn Historical Society yesterday evening to read from her second novel, When the World Was Young, on the date of its publication by Random House. She read two segments of the novel. The first told how a physician forced to give up her career because of injuries, both physical and emotional, suffered because of an auto accident in which her fiance, another physician, was killed, was courted by and married an old friend from her childhood and youth. Ms. Gaffney concluded this segment by saying, “So began a very bad marriage.” The second was from the 1950s youth of that couple’s daughter, Wally Baker, the novel’s protagonist, and told of her going to the St. George Hotel pool with a friend, Ham, who was black, and of the cicerone who guarded the pool entrance directing Ham to the “colored changing area.”

Following the readings, Ms. Gaffney was joined by Marcia Ely, BHS’s Vice President for External Affairs and Programs (on left in photo) for a discussion. Ms. Gaffney did extensive research for her novel at BHS, using its library and archives. Asked what were the most interesting materials she came across in her research, the author said she found maps of Brooklyn Heights and nearby neighborhoods in which each block was coded according to the number of black people who lived there. These maps were to facilitate banks’ practice of “redlining”; that is, to deny mortgages in places where there was a majority of black residents, and to increase rates in others that were seen to be likely to become majority black.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights

Theater 2020 Presents King Lear

May 20, 2014

Theater 2020, Brooklyn Heights’ own professional stage company, will present Shakespeare’s King Lear starting next weekend (video after the jump). There will be performances on Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24 starting at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday, May 25 starting at 3:00 p.m. The play will run through the following two weekends (May 30-June 1 and June 6-8) with performances at the same times on the corresponding days. The venue is St. Charles Borromeo Church, 19 Sidney Place. Tickets are $18 and may be purchased in advance by credit card here or with cash at the door (for reservations call 718-624-3614 or e-mail From Theater 2020:

You have never seen KING LEAR quite like this. Join us in the amazing interior of the Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Brooklyn Heights for a modern gothic take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved tragedies. You will be at the center of the action as we explore both the humor (Yes! Humor!) and poignancy of the challenges of the aging body and mind in this timeless story of family greed and failure to communicate. Well known New York Indie Theater actor [and Heights resident] David Fuller stars as King Lear, and Kim Sullivan (Classical Theatre of Harlem) is Gloucester in this 15 member diverse and top notch cast.

Following the play’s run at St. Charles Borromeo, on the weekend of June 13-15, there will be three free outdoor performances, each starting at 7:00 p.m., on Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park. No reservations are required.

See our review of Theater 2020′s production of Candide in February of this year.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, News, Sports

Official Opening of Pier 2 and Pier 4 Beach Thursday

May 20, 2014

While the Pier 4 beach (photo) and Pier 2, with its athletic facilities (see photo after the jump) have been accessible to the public for several days now, they will both be officially opened this Thursday (May 22) afternoon.

From Brooklyn Bridge Park:

Our program will kick off promptly at 3:30pm with a celebratory ribbon-cutting, followed by clinics and programs on our bocce, shuffleboard, handball and basketball courts.

Pier 2 is the Park’s second active recreation pier, and features five acres of active recreation courts for basketball, handball, shuffleboard and bocce, as well as a full size roller skating rink, swings, picnic tables, restrooms and fitness equipment. Pier 4 Beach is a unique sandy shoreline that allows park visitors to access the East River for non-motorized boating and educational programs.

The ribbon-cutting will take place at the entrance to Pier 2. All are invited to this free event.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Events, Real Estate, Tech

Shirky Gives the Word at BHA Annual Meeting: the Internet Will Not Destroy Culture

March 4, 2014

A lot went on at Thursday night’s Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting, much of which is touched on in our “Tale of the Tweets” coverage. I have a few points about the business side of the meeting to expand on. In addition to the awards for “best diner” to Clark Restaurant and to Patricia and John Duffy for their renovation of 265 Hicks Street, there was one to the extended Alperin/Lowe/Sullivan family for their various ventures, including Marissa Alperin Studio on State Street between Columbia Place and Willow Place (a frequent stop for your correspondent when shopping for presents for his wife), clothing store and art gallery Goose Barnacle, kids’ clothing shop Junior Lowe, both on Atlantic Avenue, and the re-opening of the Long Island Bar and Restaurant, also on Atlantic.

A new honor was the Martha Atwater Award, named for the Heights resident, TV producer, wife, and mother tragically killed just over a year ago when an out of control truck hit her on the sidewalk on Clinton Street. The first Martha Atwater honoree was Mary Frost, of the Eagle, who received the award in recognition of her coverage of the battle to keep Long Island College Hospital open. Finally, a “Best New Addition to the Neighborhood” award was given to Ted Zoli, with Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer accepting on his behalf, for his design of the Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge.

Clay Shirky (photo above), who holds joint appointments as a professor in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and as Distinguished Writer in Residence in NYU’s Arthur. L. Carter Journalism Institute, was evidently prepared (he is a former resident of the area) for an audience heavily salted with geezers, like your correspondent. Hence he saw his mission as dispelling any notion that the internet is leading to the End of Civilization as We Know It. But what is it destroying? There are some distinctions that it is seriously eroding, if not ending.

Shirky said he was sure we were all familiar with the Iliad, the classic account of men at arms and warfare, while a photo of the cast of Hogan’s Heroes was projected above him. Similarly, he said, we knew the Odyssey, the prototypical tale of adventure at sea and on unknown islands; this was accompanied by a photo of the Gilligan’s Island cast. He then showed a typical example of internet trivia: someone’s tweet of their fast food breakfast. Next he showed a page of a blog, NeverSeconds, started by a nine year old Scottish schoolgirl, Martha Payne, who would photograph her school “dinners” (lunches to us) and rate them for taste, healthiness, presence or absence of hairs, and other qualities. Her blog went along for some time, and gained fairly wide readership, with no reaction from school officials until it got mentioned in a newspaper. This caused her to be taken out of class and told she could no longer photograph her school meals. Her “Goodbye” post went, as they say, viral, and generated so much protest that the county council reversed its decision, and Martha’s blog, complete with photos, continues. Shirky said this illustrates one of the cultural changes the internet is effecting: an erasing of the professional/amateur distinction. Once, to reach a wide audience quickly, you had to be a professional journalist. Now, thanks to the internet, even an amateur can.

Another distinction being lost is that between public and private – as Shirky discussed in this chat a few years ago with “Switched”:

Shirky noted that tweeting on Twitter is often used as a means of chatting with friends, as oppeosed to e-mail or text messaging, but that it isn’t private, as e-mail or texting is.

As to whether the internet is oblivious to, or drowning out, “serious culture” (like the Iliad or Odyssey), Shirky noted that the printing press was invented in 1450, that the first erotic novel was printed in 1495, but that serious philosophical papers weren’t printed until the 1600s. So, just be patient. (Actiually, the first thing reported to have been printed by Johannes Gutenberg was “a German poem”; after that he produced the first printed Bible. He also printed papal encyclicals, church indulgences, and Latin grammars.)

Since I’ve used Wikipedia as a reference, it’s worth noting an interesting statistic that Shirky used in his presentation. The total person-hours used to produce and edit the entire content of Wikipedia up to a fairly recent date is approximately 100 million, but the total time spent watching TV over the same period of time (I don’t recall if he said, but I’m assuming this is worlwide) is estimated at 200 billion person hours. So, the time used by amateurs to produce an encyclopedia is, in shirky’s words, a “rounding error” compared to couch potato (or stationary bike/treadmill) time.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights

Theater 2020 to Present Candide

January 26, 2014

Theater 2020, Brooklyn Heights’ own professional theater company, will present a fortieth anniversary revival of the Hal Prince version of Leonard Bernstein’s (photo) musical comedy Candide, based on the novel by the same title by Voltaire. The show will run for four successive weekends: February 14, 15, and 16; 21, 22, and 23; 28, March 1, and 2; and 7, 8, and 9.. Friday and Saturday performances will start at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday’s performances will begin at 3:00 p.m. The venue is St. Charles Borromeo Church, 19 Sidney Place. From Theater 2020′s press release:

The 18th Century author Voltaire wrote a fanciful story about a young man, Candide, whose journey of improbable misadventures leads him ultimately to love, manhood and the meaning of Life. War, natural disasters, unnatural assignations, torture, pirates and disease are among the many obstacles Candide overcomes, in a paradoxically comedic satire, with the help of his mentor Dr. Pangloss, his love Cunegonde and the omnipotent presence of Voltaire himself. Leonard Bernstein’s musical adaptation, with a book by Lillian Hellman, and lyrics by Richard Wilbur, John LaTouche and Dorothy Parker, first appeared on Broadway in 1956. In 1973, Hal Prince got Hugh Wheeler to write a new book and this pared down version, with additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, was presented in Brooklyn at the Chelsea Theatre Center (now BAM). Theater 2020 is delighted to bring this version back to Brooklyn, in a site-specific production at St. Charles Borromeo Church. Relying heavily on its outstanding ensemble, the costume design of New York Innovative Theater Award Nominee Viviane Galloway and the piano virtuosity of Music Director Ming Aldrich-Gan, this production brings a classically contemporary take to the musical, in which extreme optimism is lampooned in favor of a more pragmatic approach to life. The characters are archetypes, the tale is episodic and picaresque, the style is guerilla theater meets morality play — and the music is glorious! Hal Prince wrote of his 1973 production: “Candide owes its origins to medieval theater, to the Globe, to commedia dell’arte. It is street theater. It is not about film. It is about live actors and a live audience.” When a 21st century audience meets skilled singer-story tellers, it’s “The Best of All Possible Worlds.”

Your correspondent is amused that among the contributors to the original version of the musical Candide were Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker, whose mutual loathing is perhaps best summed up in this anecdote:

Hellman (holding door open as Parker approaches): “Age before beauty.”
Parker (swooping by): “Pearls before swine.”

Admission to Candide is $18.00. You can make reservations and buy tickets here or at the Theater 2020 website, or you may reserve seats by e-mailing and pay cash (no cards or checks) at the door.

Leonard Bernstein photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Events, Music

The Impressions Rock Plymouth

January 12, 2014

The Impressions’ gospel-rooted rhythm ‘n’ blues, prominent on the pop charts during the struggle to end Jim Crow’s dominion, has been called the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. They have a rich history. Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1958–Sam Gooden, at left in the photo above, was a founding member–they later moved to Chicago and added Jerry “The Ice Man” Butler and Curtis Mayfield. Fred Cash, at right in the photo, joined in 1960. Butler left in 1962. Mayfield, who wrote many of the group’s best loved songs, stayed until 1970. After launching his solo career, Mayfield maintained a close relationship with the Impressions, continuing to write material for and produce them. He died on Boxing Day, 1999. After many changes in personnel, Mayfield’s position as lead singer is now ably–in my estimation–filled by Reggie Torrian, at center in the photo. In July of 2013 The Impresssions released a single, the Mayfield penned “Rhythm,” on Brooklyn’s Daptone Records.

The Impressions were the headline act for Saturday night’s “Free the Slaves” concert at Plymouth Church. Before the music began, The Rev. Al Bunis, Plymouth’s Interim Senior Minister, introduced Maurice I. Middleberg, Executive Director of Free the Slaves, an organization devoted to ending slavery in the contemporary world.

The Inspirational Voices of Abyssinian began the concert, opening with a spirited rendition of “Freedom’s Way,” and finishing their set with a rousing South African song that had the audeince clapping, shouting, and singing along.

Next up were Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens. They opened with the classic “One More River to Cross,” followed it with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” and finished with an intense “What have You Done?” Ms. Shelton’s vocal dynamics were enthralling.

Before the Impressions took the stage, there was a lively instrumental interlude performed by Daptone records’ The Dap-Kings, featuring Binky Griptite on guitar. The Dap-Kings remained on stage to serve as the Impressions’ becking band, with the addition of Fred Cash’s son on bass.

The Impressions started their set with “We’re a Winner,” a 1967 hit that was an inspiration to me during my first year of law school. Next came the 1963 classic “It’s All Right”, followed by “Keep On Pushing,” then by what is their signature song, the soul anthem “People Get Ready.” Just before the song’s conclusion, after the words “You don’t need a ticket,” Reggie Torrian stopped the music and delivered a brief sermon that would have done The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts proud, ending with the song’s final words, “Thank the Lord.”

Their next song, “Choice of Color”, waa released in 1969, a time when racial tensions were high. They were slated to appear on a late night talk show, The Joey Bishop Show, but before they went on they were told that ABC management had decided they should not do this song. They told Mr. Bishop, who said they should go ahead and sing it. “Choice of Color” was followed by a rousing “This Is My Country”.

After “My Country,” the Impressions left the stage, and Binky Griptite summoned Naomi Shelton back up for another song. The Impressions then returned and sang “Mighty Mighty (Spade & Whitey)”. The concluding song of their set, “Move On Up”, brought the audience to its feet:

Called back for an encore, they closed the show with the romantic ballad “I’m So Proud”, which showcased Mr. Torrian’s soaring tenor.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Events, Kids, Music

The Impressions Head the Bill for Free the Slaves Concert at Plymouth

December 31, 2013

Plymouth Church is known for its pre-eminent role, under the leadership of Henry Ward Beecher, in the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War. While the Emancipation Proclamation declared the slaves free, and the Thirteenth Amendment abolished the “peculiar institution,” slavery still exists in the United States, and, on a larger scale, elsewhere in the world. Human trafficking for the sex trade is the best known aspect, but there is also slavery of the sort common in the antebellum South–men and women forced to do field or factory or domestic labor without pay and while held in bondage–in almost all parts of the world. Indeed, it is estimated that today there are more people held in slavery than ever in history.

The Brooklyn Historical society, Plymouth Church, and Free the Slaves, an organization that is combating slavery of all kinds throughout the world, are presenting two events, a roundtable discussion at BHS on Friday, january 10, and a concert at Plymouth on Saturday, January 11, featuring the Impressions (video above), the Inspirational Voices of Abyssinian Baptist Church, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, and members of the Dap-Kings. The roundtable discussion begins at 7:00 p.m. Friday, but the BHS doors will open at 6:00 to allow you a sneak peek at the new exhibit “Brooklyn Abolitionists in Pursuit of Freedom.” Admission to this event is free, but you must reserve tickets here. The concert, which is a benefit for Free the Slaves, starts at 8:00 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25 or, for VIP seating, $150, and may be purchased here.

There is more information here.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Food, News

Chocolate Works Coming to Montague, Jeweler Leaving

November 7, 2013

According to the Eagle, “[a] real-life Willie Wonka is moving to Montague Street.” The Chocolate Works will be taking the space previously occupied by Radio Shack at 110 Montague Street, between Henry and Hicks. The store will sell a variety of chocolate specialties, along with other candies, and will be available for “kids’ parties and bachelorette bashes.” The Eagle story quotes owner Joe Whaley as saying he hopes to have the store open by Valentine’s Day.

The Eagle story also reports that Montague Jewelers, a fixture at 212 Montague, between Clinton and Court, since 1988 is going out of business. An owner, Alan Cabasso, said increases in the cost of gold have been a major problem for the business. Being hidden under a sidewalk bridge for some time can’t have helped, either. There is as of yet no new tenant for the space.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Books, Brooklyn Heights

New Book Tells History of Plymouth Church in Antislavery Movement and Civil War

October 18, 2013

This evening there was a book launch party at Plymouth Church for Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church in the Civil War Era: a Ministry of Freedom, (History Press, Charleston, SC, 2013) a new book by church member Frank Decker, assisted by Lois Rosebrooks, Plymouth’s Director of History Ministry Services. The book tells the story of Plymouth’s role in the antislavery movement in the years leading up to the war, led by its dynamic abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher; its participation in the “Underground Railroad” for escaping slaves; and its efforts in support of the Union cause during the war. You can read more about the book and order it here.

Your correspondent’s wife attended the book launch and took this photo of Mr. Decker and Ms. Rosebrooks.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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