"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Latex, Latex Everywhere: Gloves And Masks Litter Gowanus And BoCoCa Streets

Photo credit: Rick Weisfeld

Gowanus resident Rick Weisfeld sent us the photo collage of discarded latex gloves and mask a few days ago in an email entitled: "Finding beauty at this time?"
He added:
"I guess these days the least of our problems will be the thousands of used gloves clogging the canal, waterways in general and sewage treatment plants."

Rick's photo of the gloves certainly speaks of our new Coronavirus reality and captures a moment in time during this pandemic. But we were wondering where he had come across all these latex gloves.

Well, it turns out, they are EVERYWHERE!
Today, my husband and I took a walk on Court Street from President Street to Atlantic Avenue and found a grand total of 40 used gloves and two used masks littering the streets of our neighborhood.
What's wrong with people? Isn't the pandemic bad enough? Is this a thing now? We can't discard our (perhaps contaminated) protective gear in a trash cans?

Below are just a few of the ones that we came across.
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Brooklyn Documentarian Encourages People To Talk About Their Changing 'Coronavirus Lives' As Part Of An Interactive Audio Project

Back in 2012, Pardon Me For Asking introduced  its readers to Jamie Courville, a Carroll Gardens/ Gowanus transplant from Texas.  At the time, Jamie was working on a series of audio portraits that are deeply moving and inspirational. "Audio portraits in the first person are an effective way to inform, educate, inspire and let people know they are not alone," she explained to us.

We recently spoke with Jamie, who introduced us to another audio project that she has been working on.  She writes:
"In November 2011, I started an “anonymous” interactive audio project called ListenBeHeard. I would post questions and invite people to call in and leave voice messages with an answer. The line was also open for anyone to vent about anything at any time. I decided it is time to dust off the project. 

Things are changing fast out there. I want people to call in and leave an anonymous (or not) message talking about the coronavirus. What is your life like now? What has changed in the last week? What is coming? What are you nervous about? What is overblown? I will collect and share the voicemails from time to time. I think it is important to have a record of this. Plus, it is cathartic to call. More info on my in-progress website here.

My work tends to focus on people going through life-changing or difficult circumstances, and often tries to make the world a less lonely place. If this doesn’t fit that bill I don’t know what does.

I think it is time to dust this project off. The new number is (516) 595-9365. Please participate. To do so, call or email a voice memo to listenbeheard@gmail.com. That number is just for you. Nobody will ever answer that line and you never have to say your name. If you call the number, pick a place where you have the best phone reception possible.

Anyone have a guess on the first topic? Anyone?
What are you thinking about COVID-19? What is going on with the coronavirus?"

Please consider participating. Expressing ourselves on this topic may help relieve some stress. Besides, we all know we are all sitting at home with plenty of time on our hands.

Just as an aside, Jamie and her husband Chris Reynolds have been working on Gowanus Current for the past few years. Gowanus Current is documentary "chronicling rapid changes to a notoriously polluted neighborhood in Brooklyn. It explores the struggles of its stakeholders and the textures of a transforming landscape, asking what is truly valuable in a community."
To make a tax-deductible donation to help keep Gowanus Current going, please click here.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Carroll Gardens Corona Diary: A Neighborhood Devoid Of Street Life In Black And White

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The days are blending into each other during the Corona Pandemic of 2020, as most of us are staying safely at home, only venturing out for the bare necessities.
It seems as though time stands still. The streets in and around our beloved Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn are mostly devoid of pedestrians and traffic.
While stepping out, I can't help photographing our neighborhood during this unusual time.  The emptiness has an eery beauty about it.  The photos remind me of those wonderful historic black and white tax records taken by New York City of every block in the 1920's.  I always wondered what it would be like taking a step back in time, into that past with few automobiles.
How strange then, to experience this new reality that we all share,
Turning my most recent photos of Carroll Gardens into black and white seems appropriate as we all adjust to a world that somehow seems unaltered, yet will never be the same.

I hope you are all staying healthy, my dear Readers.


Despite Pandemic, Nature Undisturbed In Gowanus

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Here is a reminder that despite the current Corona Pandemic, nature continues undisturbed.
Gowanus resident Rick Weisfeld just sent PMFA the great photo above. He writes:
"Have you seen the goose with her eggs and Gander below in the canal. She is on the pilings just north of the west side of the Carroll Street Bridge.
Who knows if she'll be successful with her brood... hope so."

Obviously, the goose and her partner didn't realize that the waterbody they chose to rear their young is also a polluted EPA Superfund site. It seems that nature finds a way, no matter what.
Thanks, Rick. We needed this today.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Carroll Gardens Corona Diary: Whacky Predictions

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Don‘t worry! The big Orange Oracle said this will all be over by Easter.
Decorations spotted on Baltic Street in Cobble Hill.
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Carroll Gardens Nurse Practitioner Kindly Asking Carroll Gardeners For Masks And Gloves For Her Co-Workers At Maimonides Hospital

***Please see updates below.

Friend and PMFA reader Malin is a Nurse Practitioner at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. She just reached out to us to kindly ask if anyone in the community has some masks and/or other protective equipment that they are willing to donate.

Malin writes:
"As you know I work at Maimonides in cardiology, currently in outpatient clinic but may soon have to go in to hospital as need arises,
You have surely heard of the shortages of N95 masks mainly and other protective equipment. We are not low yet but they are under lock and key and very strictly rationed. The surge capacity of the hospital is to be able to accommodate almost twice the amount of beds!
I was wondering if you would mind reaching out to your readers and ask for masks or gloves that they have at home.
"My coworkers are wonderful people ALL of them with families at home, young and old! If we protect them they can help us should we ever need it."
No one needs a n95 building mask. No one needs gloves while walking down the street. A tiny bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket is much better!
I’ve made a drop box outside my door under the stoop.
Everything will go to the hospital staff
Thank you SO very much!"

Malin just put a box outside her home at 299 Carroll Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets.  The box is located under the stoop. All you have to do is to drop the equipment in and Malin will take it to work to share with her neighbors.

We will drop off two masks and half a box of latex gloves ourselves this morning.
Now is not the time to hoard, my friends.  This is the time to help our medical professionals, so they can help us if we need it.

UPDATE: A huge thank you to Matt Mazzone for donating 80 masks from a stock his hardware store Mazzone on Court Street just received.   Thank you so much for contributing to this cause, Matt.


***Update from Malin April 2, 2020
Grateful Staff at Maimonides Hospital with donated masks
Malin brought the donated masks and gloves to Maimonides Hospital.
She left them with the nurse manager in a location where Malin used work and occasionally still 'moonlights'. The manager will dispense them as needed to the staff. 

Malin writes: These people work SO hard, providing the best care they can under conditions that change DAILY.  Please thank you readers!
I am very happy to receive more N95 masks, will bring it ALL to the hospital.
Only healthcare workers will get them for work!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Carroll Gardens Corona Diary: Finding Beauty

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Finding beauty in the most desperate times.
A section of Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
emptied of pedestrians and cars due to the Corona Pandemic

Corona Pandemic 2020: Carroll Gardens Artist And Educator Triada Samara Shares Free Reading And Art Making Videos For Kids

Carroll Gardens artist and educator Triada Samara


Many of you, dear Readers, may know my friend and fellow Carroll Gardener Triada Samaras. She is an amazing artist as well as an art educator.

Like many educators, she has been keeping in touch with her students online during the Corona epidemic. A few days ago, she shared her newest project with us: a blog entitled Learning Art At Home created in partnership with William Paterson University, and funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which provides "a means of online storytelling pertaining to art education to serve children and families in the Paterson, NJ school district."

We were so enchanted with the wonderful videos that Samaras created and the delightful ideas she is sharing with kids and their parents, that we asked her if we could share them with BoCoCa parents.
No doubt, your little ones will enjoy these videos as well.  So go on over to Samaras' blog so that your kids can learn about art and join in the fun.

Samaras' Biography:
For over 15 years Greek-American artist Triada Samaras has been exploring the themes of identity, house/home, voice, and geography in her artwork, often in art activist and socially engaged contexts in New York City and Athens, Greece that have won her international recognition.

Samaras is also a studio artist working in Brooklyn where she creates personal and idiosyncratic interpretations of these themes in paintings, drawings and sculptures, that often feature her poems and writings.

Her recent exhibitions include: “Unbound” a solo exhibition at Paterson Museum, Paterson, New Jersey.
Originally educated in Fine Art at Smith College, Northampton, MA and the Museum School of Fine Art in Boston, Samaras has also completed graduate work in art, art education, and interdisciplinary art at Columbia University in New York, and Goddard College in Vermont. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Drawing and Fine Art at Kean University and Art and Art Education at William Paterson University.

Please visit her web site here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

From PMFA's Archive: A Stretch Of Smith Street In The Late 1960's

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Back in the late 1960's, early 1970's
The same stretch of Smith Street in 2013
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The section of Smith Street in March 2020 during the Corona Pandemic
Like all of our faithful readers, I am spending my days during the Corona Epidemic at my home in Carroll Gardens, only venturing out to buy the most necessary items. Since it will be hard to write new stories about the neighborhood during this quarantine, I thought I would repost some previous articles and photos from PMFA's archive
This post was first published on this site in March 2013, but I added a photo from March 2020 above. 
A while ago, I came across a xerox copy of a black and white photo of the stretch of Smith Street taken in the late 1960's. The image shows numbers 349, 351, 353 and 355 Smith Street located between Carroll Street and Second Street.

Though grainy, one can see that the four buildings have not changed much. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that #349, #351 and 353 fall within the Carroll Gardens Landmark district, the smallest in all of New York City.

What is more fascinating are the commercial spaces and the former businesses that occupied them then and now.
349 Smith Street
No doubt, many remember Joe's Superette and its famous prosciutto and rice balls.  Sadly, after 50 years at the same location, the business closed in 2011 when second owner Leo Coladonato passed away.
Avlee, a new Greek restaurant just opened up there last month.

351 Smith Street
When I moved into the neighborhood in 1985, Venuti's, a small hardware store, was still open.  Mr. Venuti, a heavy set elderly man, operated the business with his son and his daughter-in law. (I believe her name was Michelle, but I could be mistaken).  I remember the owner most for his custom of pouring a shot of rather harsh brandy to all his customers at Christmas time.  I must admit to leaving the store with quite a buzz once, when my mother and I stopped in to buy a few of the wooden ornaments Mr. Venuti had added to his inventory during the holidays.
I still have them.
Mr. Venuti and his son passed away one after the other just a few years later and the store closed.
Ting Hua, a Chinese restaurant, has been operating here for quite a few years.

353 Smith StreetWhen Frank's Italian Delicatessen opened two doors down from Joe's Superette, it created  a bit of a stir because,  from what I gathered from neighborhood old-timers,  Frank at one time worked for Joe, Joe's wife Ann and their two sons, Joseph and Steven.  When Frank opened his business so close to his former boss'  place and competed with Joe's Superette,  many were cross at him.

At one point, Frank's moved to the corner of Smith Street and 2nd Street, across from the subway station, where it is still to this day.

A Korean deli has occupied the storefront at number 353 for a very long time now.  Though the deli has remained virtually unchanged for the last decades, the Korean owners have changed at least three times since I have moved here.

355 Smith Street

A laundromat has operated at this address for a number of years.  I must admit that I don't really remember what was there before.  It would appear that in the late 1960's, it was either an office or a social club.

Does anyone remember more about these stores? Its owners?  I would love to hear your memories and stories about them and other businesses in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Picture Of the Day:Eerily Empty

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Eerily empty.
Court Street during the pandemic of 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020

Carroll Gardens Corona Diary: Social Distancing


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Carroll Gardens residents continues to adapt to life under Covid-19 as best as possible. So are the merchants who remain open to serve the community by offering take-out service. A big thank you to them. It can't be easy.

The order of the day for them and for us is 'social distancing' to keep us safe. Some establishments seem to be taking things pretty seriously, which is great.

Nerd Be Cool at 518 Court Street has been really good about creating a culture of social distancing - people have been doing it on their own but now they've put up a sign and here you can see the results

Caputo's Fine Food at 460 Court Street is also on board and has changed its hours temporarily

Brooklyn Bread at 412 Court Street approached social distancing with a bit off humor, telling its customer that they can come in, but can't stay.

Farmacy,  has  closed on March 16, and will be closed "until we design a way to serve you in the safest and sweetest of ways" A sign in the window encourages people to purchase a gift card to support small businesses.

Some bars, however, were a bit less careful about making sure their customers keep a safe distance from each other this week-end.  We understand that they are trying to survive through this difficult time by selling take-out drinks to boost their revenue, but caution should still be the order of the time. 

Bar Bruno, the Mexican bistro at 520 Henry Street, for example, offered take out margaritas, but patrons were gathering on the sidewalk "as though it was happy hour, socializing from the bar's outdoor benches or seated in groups across the street by Mazzola", as one resident reported to us.

By the way, the NYC Parks Department is also taking social distancing seriously.  The Basketballcourts in Carroll Park are now closed for group play.
Please stay safe out there, people. This is not the time to be a 'covidiot".
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****We would like to thank friend and reader Christian, who has been generously sharing some of his photos with us.Thanks, Christian.