Interesting Items

Found at the 7th Heaven Street Fair in Park Slope.

Field Trip to the Highline

Went to the highline today. The sun beat down on me on my friend as we admired the views and the landscaping. The new buildings down there are fairly avant garde many are ugly and look like they should be in East Berlin but at least there is still some of old New York shining through.Hello Chrysler building!!! The meatpacking district is full of boring designer shops for the most part. It sucks how everything cool is co-opted. Oh well that's life, change is inevidible but the Highline get's F.I.B's seal of approval for recycling.


Superfund Gowanus vs. The City's Plan

The folks at Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse have done it again and have added a part two to their series about the Gowanus Superfund Nomination. This show will air BCAT television and Manhattan cable over the next few weeks, starting this Tuesday. But of course you can also watch it right now on Youtube! This video addresses the City of New York's "alternative plan" vs. the EPA's. Footage includes folks from the city and the EPA at a Community Board 6 meeting a few weeks ago along with interviews with residents and the bio-bus which took samples of Gowanus water and put it under microscopes.


Brooklyn BCAT Air dates
Tuesday 8:30 PM
8:00 PM
TimeWarner Cable 34 / Cablevision 67 / RCN 82 / Verizon 42

Manhattan MNN Air dates
8:30 PM
TimeWarner Cable 56 / Cablevision 17 / RCN 83 / Verizon 34

Please do not forget to comment on the EPA's website, direct link here.


School's Out!

Found on Union Street.

No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks......

I didn't plan this but I did a school's out post last year, check it here!

Celebrate the Cyclone's 82nd Birthday with the Coney Island History Project Friday!

Looks like we are FINALLY going to have a nice weekend so a trip out to Coney Island might be in order, particularly if you the rain kept you away from the Mermaid Parade last weekend.

The festivities start on Friday as it is the Cyclone Roller Coaster's 82nd Birthday and the Coney Island History Project is hosting a 1920's style dance with the "Cranky DJ" playing handcranked 78's on his Victrola!

Also! The first 100 people on line ride FREE!

From the Coney Island History Projects invite:

Free & Fun: Groove to Ragtime & Pop 78rpm Records Spun on Hand-Cranked Antique Phonographs by The Cranky DJ!

On Friday, June 26, from 11 am till 1 pm, the Coney Island History Project's exhibition center under the Cyclone will be open for a very special celebration: The Cyclone Roller Coaster's 82nd Birthday Party! The first rides of the historic coaster began on June 26, 1927. Over 80 years later, the Cyclone is still thrilling thousands of riders each year and is one of the city landmarks featured in CIHP's "Coney Island Icons" exhibition. On its 82nd birthday the first 100 people in line get to ride the Cyclone for free. The Cyclone Roller Coaster opens at 12 noon, but the line is expected to start early. Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani will be there to meet and greet visitors.

The History Project has invited Michael W. Haar aka "The Cranky DJ" to bring his 1923 Brunswick phonograph and a 1921 Victor Victrola to the party. Both are original talking machines powered entirely by manual hand-crank. No electricity whatsoever! Beginning at 11 am, Michael will spin original 78rpm dance and pop records dating from 1906-1929. "All the selections are sure to make you laugh, dance, and if you're not careful, steal your heart away," says Michael. Wear your dancing shoes and get ready to groove to fox-trots, waltzes, marches, one-steps, quartets and more!

The Coney Island History Project


The Word "Superfund" Scares the City! A Recap on City's "Alternative to Superfund" Presentation.

Representatives from the City of New York, Cas Holloway and Dan Watson talked in unconvincing circles tonight at their second presentation this week to discuss alternatives to designating the Gowanus as a Superfund site.

Their major points.

1. The city’s plan is exactly the same as the E.P.A’s. The dredging will be done by the Army Corp of Engineers and will be overseen by the EPA. The difference? It wound not be called a Superfund site. They see it as a stigma.

2. They feel that P.R.P’s (potentially responsible parties or polluters) would be more willing to pay up if it was on a voluntary basis. (Does anybody believe this?)

3. The monies that are NOT collected from P.R.P’s will be gotten through the Water Resources Development Act or WRDA.

This is the best part!

4. If it doesn’t work out and the big “if” lies on getting the money from W.R.D.A than they will hand the project over to the EPA and it can then become the much stigmatized Superfund site. Of course this will be a few years down the road but "what's the hurry?"

The problem is and they did not mention it but Dan Wiley from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s office confirmed that there is no money in WRDA for the Gowanus!

Making the city’s plan a huge waste of money all in order to avoid the “stigma” of the word Superfund!

To quote Congresswoman Velazquez from an article from the Brooklyn Star (link below):
"The Gowanus Canal has never been included in WRDA and this is the vehicle the city is proposing to use," Velazquez said. "For the city to say that their plan relies on money that the federal government won't be able to provide is a disservice to the community."

I know this is redundant but it seems like a huge waste of time and money to me. Let the Fed’s do it!

The business owners in the audience questioned about P.R.Ps. Walter Mugdon of the EPA stepped in several times at the city’s invitation to explain things that the city obviously couldn’t answer. I think that this made the city seem less credible.

Debby Scotto, (one of the members of Clean Gowanus Now!) did comment about the “stigma” and how it will redline the neighborhood making it impossible to get insurance and mortgages. I would think the neighborhood is far past that, it’s gentrified and I don’t think there is any going back to those days. The Gowanus and Carroll Gardens are constantly being written about in the NY Times Real Estate section, fashion and design magazines etc. It will continue to be desirable. That’s why the Toll Brothers want in so bad. I would think that by allowing the EPA to step in with their plan, which they already have drawn up would cost the taxpayers far less money. The city did admit that that the taxpayers would be paying for the bulk of it their plan. Actually Walter Mugdon said that but they didn’t object!


The city on one hand says they will get it done faster and on the other hand say, “what’s the hurry?”

Cas Holloway admitted that the only reason that they came up with this plan was because the DEP requested that it become a Superfund site when questioned about their sudden interest. Reason enough alone to distrust them. They were willing to let developments happen on a toxic waste dump and only when forced have acted like they care. Ultimately it is the EPA that has the final decision on this and I hope they are not swayed by the lobbying that is probably being done in Washington despite Holloway’s claim that they are not.

Click here to read about how there is no money in WRDA for the Gowanus Canal!

Read about yesterday’s meeting over here at Pardon Me For Asking


Secretive Gowanus "Alternative Plan" Meetings on Tuesday & Wednesday

Do I have to come back to reality? Walking amongst mermaids and deranged pirates was so much more fun than reminding any Gowanus residents that the city will be discussing their "alternative plan" with residents and business owners. But I suppose Bloomberg could be described as a "deranged pirate"!

From C.O.R.D:


Mayor’s Office has planned 2 meetings for the property owners who are adjacent to the Gowanus Canal to discuss the proposed listing and the City’s alternative plan

Meeting for homeowners who live near the Canal
Tuesday, June 23 at 6 p.m., at P.S. 32 (317 Hoyt Street).

Meeting for business owners located near the Canal
Wednesday, June 24 at 6 p.m., at P.S. 32 (317 Hoyt Street).

The meeting information is also available on their website


Coney Island 2009 Mermaid Parade

The rain didn’t stop the 2009 Mermaid parade yesterday out at Coney Island, although the crowds were nowhere near as huge as on sunnier Mermaid Parade days, spirits were just as high. F.I.B decided to get involved in the parade form the inside this year and volunteered with her favorite arts organization, Coney Island USA . I got placed in the staging area under the “head quarters” tent, not too shabby!
I would compare it to being backstage at a talent show. It also gave me a great opportunity to see absolutely everyone who was in the parade as Dick Zigun says in the little video clip I shot, all the “families and floozies, the Mermaid Parade has it all!” and Harvey Keitel to boot!
The drum that gets banged on at the start of every Mermaid Parade.My first Mermaid encounter of the day. She was very elegant.
Genie Mermaid!
Bunch of Mermons....
These mermaids had amazingly beautiful french toile tails, the details were stunning.
Harvey Keitel as King Neptune.
This group was jitterbuggin' and lindy hoppin' for a couple of hours before the parade even started!The Mummers from Philadelphia.
Harvey Keitel and his Queen Daphna.
I think this guy said his name was "Lone Howlin' Elvis".

A fab day!I will have loads more pictures over at my flickr account.

P.S- Some more coverage of the Parade

Confessions from the Velvet Ropes. I love this blog!

Amusing the Zillion Great photos and commentary from the reviewing stand!


The Evil of today's NYC by Lost City.

Required Reading!
Lost City's take on the current Gowanus happenings here.


Mermaid Parade 2009 this Saturday!

It's that time again, the time for the largest art parade in the United States, The Mermaid Parade! And yes HARVEY KEITEL will be crowned King Neptune this year!

From Coney Island USA's website:
Coney Island – The 27th Annual MERMAID PARADE will step off at 2 PM on Saturday, June 20th 2009, incorporating several major changes that will guarantee that America’s largest “art parade” also goes down in history as the biggest parade ever in the 168 summer seasons of legendary Coney Island! Coney Island is indeed open and the Mermaid Parade is alive and well. Special highlights this year include:
King Neptune MR. HARVEY KEITEL with his Queen Mermaid Daphna
Recording artists, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS performing on a float
PHILADELPHIA MUMMERS dressed as Maine Fishermen
MONSTER TRUCK ‘BLUE THUNDER’ performing a parade prelude
Performers from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey’s BOOM A RING
New & Improved parade route beginning at Surf Ave & West 21st.

Click here for the link with ALL the details from the fab folks at Coney Island USA.

Click here to read bittersweet memories of F.I.B's first Mermaid Parade in 1990 and what it was like to be in it in the year 2000.

Click here for pictures and commentary from Mermaid Parade 2007.

Click here for here for pictures and commentary about Mermaid Parade 2008.

See you there, rain or shine!

*Please note a COMPLETELY new route, conveniently bypassing the abomination created by Joe Sitt around the former site of Astroland. It starts at W. 21st heads to W. 1oth and then goes down the boardwalk ending at W. 15th Street.

Mermaid Ball later at the former Child's Restaurant, details on the Coney Island USA website.

And AFTER the Mermaid Parade at around 8pm, talented friend and author/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg, of the children's book "Mermaids on Parade" will be at Superfine in Dumbo autographing books at an after party. Details here!


Check out "Gowanus by Design".

I stumbled upon this blog called Gowanus by Design and it's a great resource for most everything Gowanus.

Here is a description in their own words.....

"Gowanus by Design proposes a new development strategy going forward for the Gowanus area, showcasing different options for the canal and including the many voices of canal stakeholders. GbD will develop speculative projects that point to the potential for what the canal can be, and GbD will track the coordination of clean-up and development efforts between the many city agencies whose individual decisions impact those of us who live and work near the canal.

Within this site explore the potential for development and improvement (not always the same thing) of the Gowanus Canal and its environs:
1.Blueways and Greenways
Exploring the canal as a park and recreation amenity
2.Transportation Issues and Opportunities
Exploring improvements to public transportation
3.Current Events
Links to recent online news and blogs
4.Canal Developments
Planned development projects, plot by plot
5.Links to Gowanus area stakeholders
6.About the Area
Statistical information
7.Urban Design 101
Learn about community based urban design
8.Letters and Opinions
As if we hadn’t said enough"

The community stakeholders link is especially useful as it lists all the local community groups as well as how to reach our local pols. Their current events section is an archive of almost all the recent press coverage of the battle over the Gowanus. I especially like that they say " development and improvement (not always the same thing)"!

Check it out here!


As the Gowanus Turns....

Apparantly you have to pay people to convince local businesses that Superfund is bad! F.I.B heard through the Gowanus grapevine that a paid representative of the formerly anonymous Clean Gowanus Now! group was doing just that today and using all the usual scare tactics and non factoids, using talking points that included something about nurses in some other part of the country!

I say formerly anonymous because they have recently added their names to their organization.
Those names being:

Africa-Israel, U.S.A.(a huge multi-national real estate corporation.)
Bayside Fuel Oil Depot Corporation
Jobco, Inc.
Magnifico Enterprises
L&M Development Partners, Inc.(see photo of smiling Bloomie & Toll Brother V.P)
The Ribellino Family (Waste Management)
Debbie & Buddy Scotto
Toll Brothers, Inc.

surprise, surprise

I wonder if they are also paying someone to swipe Pro Superfund posters out of local business windows such as Winn Discount?


The Riverkeeper just visited the Gowanus and found "unsafe sewage levels in canal bacteria count high in Gowanus" and "that of the dozens of locations Riverkeeper tests - from New York City to north of Albany - only the Gowanus and Newtown Creek show contamination levels as high." Read about it in the Daily News here.

And our local Councilman STILL thinks it's not the job for the EPA!
Pardon Me for Asking has the story on that. Read: Councilman Bill DeBlasio Still Pushing City's Alternative To Gownaus Superfund Listing.

Congrats on the New York Times City Room picking up that story up Katia!


New Orleans R&B Legend Allen Toussaint performs at Metrotech Thursday at Noon

New York City is a treasure trove of free music once summer begins. One of F.I.B's absolute favorite music festivals is the BAM Rhythm and Blues Festival at Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn. I will never EVER forget seeing Bo Diddley there a few years back! The only downside of this festival is that it occurs at noon on Thursdays which makes it difficult to get to but, if you are able, try and make it down.

This Thursday at noon, New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint performs. Toussaint has written, produced and performed on many a great hit which include Dr. John's ""Right Place, Wrong Time", "Working in a Coalmine" recorded by Ernie K-Doe,(later covered by DEVO) and "Mother-in-Law" recorded by Lee Dorsey to name but a few. A performer in his own right, Allen recently finished a week long stint at the Village Vanguard that drew rave reviews and has also recently collaborated with Elvis Costello.

To read about and to listen to Allen Toussaint's recent performance at the Village Vanguard click here.

Found on Bond Street

Ten orderly years of National Geographic up for grabs....


"Superfund Gowanus" Show Airs Tuesday

This just in from Sabine and Steve at Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse who produced a great show about why we should support the Gowanus Superfund.

" Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse spent a day with FROGG (Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus) to produce our latest TV and Youtube show that will air this month on BCAT and MNN in order to raise environmental consciousness about the issue and encourage all to go to www.superfundgowanus.org and take action by signing the online petition and sending comments to the EPA."

Check it out on BCAT and MNN in the next coming weeks, air dates for this week below, also on YouTube here.


Brooklyn BCAT Air dates
Tuesday June 9
8:00 PM
TimeWarner Cable 34 / Cablevision 67 / RCN 82 / Verizon 42

Manhattan MNN Air dates
Thursday June 11
8:30 PM
TimeWarner Cable 56 / Cablevision 17 / RCN 83 / Verizon 34

To the Superfund Nay Sayers.....

One of the scare tactics that the people (mostly developers) in the group called Clean Gowanus Now! use to persuade the community to be against the EPA cleaning of the Gownanus Canal is to say there are no "funds" in the "superfund". Well I have news for you. President Obama announced today that in upcoming months billions of stimulus dollars are going to be released to create jobs and some of that money is going to be used for Superfund Projects. More reason than ever to want the EPA to clean the canal.

"the Environmental Protection Agency will begin or accelerate the cleanup of 20 Superfund sites"

Read about his speech here.

*Info from the Associated Press, image from Be A Design Group.


That Was No Hallucination!

Did anyone happen to pass by 2nd Street between Bond and the canal as I did last Saturday? In case you wondering just who invaded, it was guerrilla art group The Madagascar Institute. They were celebrating their 10 year anniversary. The crowd was the type that go to Burning Man, the vibe more Oakland, California than Brooklyn.There was a "biobus" that made it's way to New York from California on recycled vegetable oil, only being pulled over once or twice the whole way! You can also see a bit of the giant plywood ouiji board on the street.
And in the biobus were microscopes with sample of the Gowanus water. This one here shows nothing because all the bacteria is DEAD DEAD DEAD! By the way, The BioBus "is a converted transit bus equipped with digital microscopes, a cell culture lab, and a computer cluster. The bus travels to schools, community centers, and museums, where students collect live cells from their environment, make movies of the cells crawling, and then analyze these movies on the computer. Activities emphasize the joy of discovery and foster scientific creativity by building on students' own hypotheses." Click here to read more.Yes this is a grown man wearing a helmet with upside down spider man legs glued to the top on a see saw. Also going on at this surreal event were lots of somewhat dangerous sculptural things such as this giant see saw. There was a metal surfboard on springs that I saw someone fall off of and a big thing at the end of the night called "The Time Machine" that was all lit up at the edge of the canal. As we waited with anticipation at the end of the night for this thing to shoot into the heavens or something, a woman singing "The Star Spangled Banner" was suddenly heard. And lo and behold she came sailing over the canal on a rope, pulley, swing type thing, all 300 pounds of her in a ball gown and pulls the "The Time Machine" down. She didn't fall into the water though, so that's good. I am sure the EPA wouldn't be happy about this stunt! But then again, The Madagascar Institute's motto is "Fear is never Boring".

*Opinions of the Madagascar Institute do not reflect the credo of F.I.B!I didn't really dig the fact that they were shooting tennis balls and whatnot into the canal. Plus they left their stage behind half in the water, it's there right now. Clean up after yourselves people...


Clean Gowanus Now? Superfund it!!!

If you live in Community Board 6 you probably have received this expensive pablum in the mail. Anonymously written, this group wants you to be against designation of the Gowanus Canal for Superfund status. They have NO transparency and they expect you to give you their name and address so that they can personally put you on their petition.

They are called Clean Gowanus Now and guess what? When you google "Clean Gowanus Now" you arrive at the Toll Brother's website! Smooth!

I'm going to act like the City during the EPA's presentation (like what they said) and direct you over to Katia at Pardon Me For Asking for more info and commentary. Click here!

Many commenters at PFMA have pointed out the best thing about this flyer is that they provided the phone numbers and email addresses of all our elected officials, so please call them and tell them SUPERFUND GOWANUS!

Also read yesterday's the NY TImes pro superfund Op Ed piece "From Gowanus to Venice" here.