Audio Portrait: Gowanus Activist by Jamie Courville

Audio portrait of F.R.O.G.G member Linda Mariano. Listen here.
 Audio portrait artist Jamie Courville says that "I like to record the voices and faces of people who are seldom heard and strive to get them to places where they will be."
She recently  produced a piece focusing on one of F.R.O.G.G founders Linda Mariano.
What is F.R.O.G.G you ask? F.R.O.G.G stands for Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus, a Brooklyn community activist group who act as a watch dog for environmental issues in the Gowanus Corridor. A few years back F.R.O.G.G led a huge campaign to helped in part to get the Gowanus Superfunded. In the past month most of FROGGs prophesies have come true with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. FROGG uses science as a barometer and has been talking about sea levels, climate change, flooding and water contamination in response to future development plans on the shores of the Gowanus for years. Developers like to depict them as "environmental crazies" but I think that they are the sanest people around.  
Please click here to listen.
 Jamie has other audio portraits of people that you can listen to on her website. Go to it here.


Coney Island 5 days after Hurricane Sandy

American Suds, Mermaid Avenue.

I went out to Coney Island today with some friends who were transporting donations of  food, coats and baby items. These are some photos of what I saw. To me the thing that makes Coney Island such a special place is how no matter how urban it's side streets are you can never get away from how Mother Nature is really the one who owns the place even without Hurricane Sandy. So excuse me if these photos seem to jump back from the streets to the beach but that's Coney.

Garbage has not seemed to have been picked up in a while on Mermaid Avenue.
The Coney Island Pier is still standing but will need some help eventually.
Volunteers cleaning the beach area at Coney Island.
Window with food on the sill at the Warbasse Houses which houses thousands of elderly and still does not have power. Many volunteers showed up today to climb over 20 flights of stairs to check on residents and to donate supplies.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at the FEMA staging area in Coney Island.
Coney Island residents waiting for supplies at FEMA staging area.
Getting water from fire hydrants which will probably have to carried up many flight of stairs.
The sand came up from the beach a couple blocks past Surf Avenue! Frightening!
Sand on the boardwalk. Volunteers were shoveling it back to the beach.

Coney Island will rise again but will be needing help for quite some time. I heard people say that power may not be on until NOVEMBER 10th!  That's another week of no heat, no hot water, no elevators and a whole lot of stress. And it is COLD there. Donations most needed are blankets, coats, flashlights, powerstrips, BABY ITEMS such as diapers, wipes, boxed milk, pediasure as well as insure, first aid items, cleaning items and non perishable food. There are no markets for these people to shop in right now.

Click here to see where you can drop off donations or donate manpower to not only Coney Island but all the communities in NYC that have been hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.


Gowanus Area During and After Hurricane Sandy

Looking up 3rd Street at a submerged 3rd Street bridge.
 I was too scared to leave my apartment on Bond Street on the night Sandy hit but my friend and fellow Bond Street neighbor Ed Woodham wasn't. All these evening hurricane photos were taken by him in the area around Bond Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. 
Car floating on 3rd Street Bridge. No sign of a driver.   
Photo Ed Woodham
Looking down a flooded 2nd Street toward the Gowanus Canal.    
Photo Ed Woodham
Looking out of a Bond Street building toward 3rd Street.     
Photo Ed Woodham
 Looking from a Bond Street building toward 2nd Street.   
Photo Ed Woodham
The water recedes and the leaves it's aftermath on Bond Street.  
photo Ed Woodham
Bond Street and 2nd Street this morning.
1rst Street at Bond Street.
Bond Street was littered with logs!
The logs seemed to have been pushed to Bond Street when the waters breached from this 1rst Street lot on the shore of the canal.
Although the canal sort of looked pretty with this psychedelic rainbow slick....
it made the air smell like gas today. This water is full of toxic poisons and we were VERY lucky we didn't get heavy rains last night as the water would not have receded so quickly with the tides. On the night of the storm surge up Bond Street I looked out my window and was so frightened when I saw large objects floating up the street. Next time I might evacuate. I was considered "Zone B" even though I was about 20 feet from "Zone A". Today basements are flooded and the streets are full of potentially toxic debris. We really don't know the health risks of being in contact with this water, which is a very good point on why building a huge 700 unit apartment building on the shores of the Gowanus in a "Zone A"  evactuation area is a bad idea.

Gowanus Waters Surge and Fill Bond Street

This scary footage was taken last night as the waters surged from the Gowanus Canal and began to fill Bond Street at a frighteningly quick speed.

The brave person who took this footage (I live on Bond and I was cowering in the middle of my apartment with the lights off having anxiety attacks!) has a very sane and logical message for Lightstone Properties , who wish to build a 700 unit apartment complex on this stretch of block which is "DON'T BUILD HERE!"


Scenes from Gowanus Canal area at low tide today.

Lowtide on the Gowanus at noon is VERY HIGH.
A bit of video to for the full effect.
This is the lot in a Zone A evacuation area where the city thinks it's perfectly safe to build a 700 unit apartment complex. This will be completely flooded in a few hours.
A very HIGH low tide looking up toward 3rd Street from the Carroll Street Bridge. Future 700 unit apartment complex site on your right.

Ain't waterfront property grand?

Film business buses evacuating  parking lot at the Canal are filling up Bond Street. Maybe they will help to protect the houses a bit more from the anticipated storm surges?
Remember Halloween?

Sandbags along the Gowanus

The tide is extremely high tonight and the anticipated rain has not even started. The boats are swaying and anything that is in the canal is thrashing about. Houses in the Zone A areas did not really seem evacuated but precautions were being taken as far as putting tape on windows and sandbags on cellar doors
340-342 Bond Street waits for Hurricane Sandy at 9 PM on Sunday night. 
This Scarano condo building at 340-342 Bond Street had all it's doors fortified with sandbags.
Recently the Gowanus/Carroll Gardens community has learned that developer Lightstone Properties wants to build a 700 unit apartment building on this very block - directly on the shores of the Gowanus Canal in a CATEGORY A EVACUATION ZONE!
It makes me wonder.
Is this project about creating safe housing for people or really about developers making ruthless profit by putting people in harms way?
Building on a Federal Superfund Site seems like a bad idea to start but to also build in a flood plain in which the floods include raw sewage makes it even a worse idea. And to build in a place that right now is in the midst of a MANDATORY EVACUATION seems like a REALLY REALLY BAD IDEA!
 In fact there was supposed to be a hearing about it tomorrow but it's been cancelled due to the hurricane!
Now is the time for our elected officials and City Planning to start opening up their eyes.
Climate change is real and we are living it now.
Click here to contact 39th District Councilman Brad Lander to voice your concern and here for City Planning.


700 new apartments along the Gowanus? Smells like SEWAGE to me. Please sign this petition!

This fugly project looks like it belongs in Dallas.
Once again the Gowanus community is up against a developer looking to make a fast buck in the name of "affordable housing" and "jobs". If approved this development will situate itself  on Bond Street between 2nd Street and Carroll Street in the same place as the Toll Brothers proposed to build their project which housed 200 LESS units than this. Toll Brothers abandoned the project when the EPA declared this a toxic waterway and designated it a Superfund site.
The developers, Lightstone Group, are using an Environmental Impact Statement or "EIS" from the days before it became a superfund site and have admitted at a CB6 land use meeting last week to be using non union workers. This is WRONG!
Please sign this petition and pass it on to anyone you know who cares about the environment, over development and profit over community concerns.
Sign the petition here.


Found on Carroll Street between Smith and Hoyt during a heatwave.
Bet you never thought you would see another "FOUND IN BROOKLYN"!
F.I.B loves by paint by number paintings so this is a real treasure.


Nancy Drew "Cher-tacular" Art Opening this Saturday

Freddy's Bar and Back Room is worshiping at the alter of CHER this weekend. Not only is there new Cher-specific work by Nancy Drew premiering but you have a chance of taking one away or gettting a Freddy's bar tab if you choose to dress like Cher or one of her many consorts or family members.

Details as follows....

  Don't miss Nancy Drew's Opening Night Cher-tacular Events

  6 - 8 pm: 
 Art Opening 66 Chers (Dear Cher), mixed-media paintings by artist Nancy Drew with a very special Cher video mash-up by legendary video artist Donald O'Finn.

 6 - 10 pm: Cher Costume Party
 Come as Cher or Sonny, one of her fabulous ex-boyfriends or anyone else from those groovy days...  
Be one of the first 25 guests to arrive in costume and receive a signed, "Dear Cher" monoprint by Nancy Drew.

 *Special Prizes for Best Costumes include a Nancy Drew 'Cher' painting and Freddy's bar tab.*

 Rumor has it that some of Cher's ex's, Greg Allman, Les Dudek and Brooklyn's very own Rob Camiletti might make an appearance!

  8 - 9 pm: Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
  Hosted by premiere comic, VH1's Pat O'Shea. Special guest appearances by impersonators Tom Jones, Greg Allman, Phyllis Diller, Liza Minelli and more!

 9 - 10:30 pm: Cher-aokee
 Hosted by Tokyo Rosenberg & H-Bomb. Spinning all-Cher music. Cher & Sonny wigs will be available for your performances!

 Special prize for best performance!

 Hours: Sun - Sat 12pm - 4am
Subways: F train to 4th Avenue/9th Street R train to Prospect Avenue