Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mooney's Pub Closes it's Doors with a Smile

Sunday, I missed the thunder storm. I was watching "10,000 BC" with my headphones on while proofing some patterns. My neighbor said the sky opened up with peels of thunder and then formed something that looked like a small funnel cloud. I just thought that I had good headphones. Parts of Brooklyn flooded with streets that looked like white rapids. But Saturday brought particularly decent weather for Mooney's — a warm summer evening with a cool breeze, the scent of Silver Linden blossom, sweet, almost cloying.

Mooney's, an old Brooklyn watering hole, will not be re-newing their lease as their rent had more than doubled. But they close their doors with a smile. Mooney's, O'Connors, Freddy's — the emerald Triangle is broken. Is it now just a green line?

The last time I was by was for the Freddy's v. O'Connor's post-softball game drink (OC's v. Fred's: 9 to 8). I admit I'm not a Mooney's reg, but this was an occasion not to be missed, so I brought my camera.

I met up with Owen, Steph, Mike, Don, Nancy, Kevin, Tom, G.R ., et al— all the townies and Brooklynite bartender royalty. Some folks came from as far way as Harlem for their last drink at the bar.

The bar was packed to the walls but Shuhei spotted me and handed me an ice-cold Bud right as I walked in. Scott, Ben, and Shuhei were busy behind the bar but they didn't miss a beat.

Generations of the Mooney family sat at the back table held up in conversation. As far as I know, Mooney's Pub had been around since the 70's here on Flatbush.

There was glad-handing and musing of days past. Everyone toasted the good times and good people.

Old friends hugged amidst the sound of clinking glasses and the buzz of conversation.

Before the night was over a melancholy drone grew louder and hushed the din of the room.

A Celtic warrior in full regala emerged armed with a bagpipe.

People were awestruck by the forlorn melody, some were moved to tears.

Don clinked my glass and said "Welcome to the Irish wake." Indeed, it's times like these when it's best to walk out with a smile.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Nets Arena Appeal

This is not a Monster Truck event, this is one of FCR's blight-making machines. I received the news a few days ago, it still makes me ill. The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from 11 property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena (More from Crain's New York Business). The enactment of Eminent Domain is made viable by declaring the neighborhood blighted. The only blight that has occurred is being generated by the developer, Forest City Ratner (FCR) ripping up the streets and turning a once vibrant neighborhood into a dusty, yet still occupied, ghost town. Who wants to live or do business in the dust bowl? Anyone?
[SIC] June 23. 2008 11:10AM Bloomberg News (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena in Brooklyn. The justices rejected an appeal that was intended to stop development of the Atlantic Yards project. Eleven property owners and tenants said that using the government's power to take the property, called eminent domain, violates the U.S. Constitution because the project would primarily benefit the developer, not the public. Developer Bruce Ratner said he wants to build 16 skyscrapers, an 18,000-seat arena for the professional basketball franchise and thousands of apartments. The area currently is occupied by a rail yard, industrial buildings, and some businesses and homes...
Neighborhood improvements? This must be the new public tennis courts and bungee-jump tower compliments of FCR. "Live... Work... Play... Atlantic Yards... But first we must kill you with dust." We actually continue to live-work-play in Propect Heights as we've always done. But now we must dodge congested traffic, large piles of construction debris, noise pollution, displaced vermin, and hazardous dust clouds. And as all Prospect Heights residents know, ground-shaking demolition starts at 7:00 AM on the clock. The noise is unbearable. Eminent domain was originally intended as a means to obtain land for the public good (highways, hospitals, schools... etc.). Now it's being mis-used to take property away from home owners to hand over to private developers.Atlantic Yards has been bad for local business and bad for locals — but pro-Arena demonstrators have rallied to tell us why we should hand-over our neighborhood. They come from far and wide, the unions and locals love this project. At 3:00PM they clock-out, leave the rallies, hop on their buses, and head home to Long Island and New Jersey. As townies, we simply walk home.Like big woman in cigarette pants, traffic on Flatbush and Pacific has now reached a disaterous crossroad. FCR has never reaveled their solution to the environmental impact of arena traffic. Allegedly this tax-funded project would only be made possible if it provided so called "affordable" housing, which is no longer the case. As recent news reported, affordable housing is no longer in the plans due to the sagging economy. Now Atlantic Yards turns out to be just another private arena, but that's what this has always been about. Affordable housing was the icing, now just have a very dry sponge cake. The benefits obviously reside lie in the back pocket of the developer, FCR. And still our boys upsate and the city turn a blind eye on these matters. Here's a partial list of agreements with NY State that FCR has been allowed to forego (source:
  • There will be 50% affordable housing in Atlantic Yards.(Why can't Johnny divide? 2,250 "affordable" units out of 6,430 luxury units is not 50%.)
  • There will be a public open space on the arena roof.(Except for the townies and darkies.)
  • There will be a private green roof on the arena.(Green as in dollars? Who has the keys to the garden?)
  • Ratner spokesman Loren Reigelhaupt: “When it comes to sharing information with the public and governmental bodies, there’s no such thing as too much, as far as we are concerned."(FCR claims they have a business plan with a projection model, but they don't have to make it public since it's an "agreement" with the state of New York, and not the public.)
  • Atlantic Yards will take 10 years to build.(If you own a time machine.)
  • Atlantic Yards went through a rigourous public process.(They did. Bribing unions is a shameless public act.)
  • Atlantic Yards will create 10,000 permanent jobs.(Over the course on a century.)
I find it pathetic that the cost for this Titanic Atlantic Yards project has spiraled far beyond the initial estimates that were approved by Upstate NY a few years back. I find it absolutely ironic that the "iceberg" in this story is the sagging US economy, and not the Supreme Court. I have to quit asking myself "How is this possible?" It helps when Ratner's colleagues and buddies run the state.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Knit PH at the BMA June 21, 2008

The Midwestern floods have taken their toll over four states, but the damage is still yet to be realized. I had to turn of the TV, it was getting me down. It's the first day of summer — I was planning out my day over coffee while catching up with my neighbor Denis when Chris walked into the coffee shop. "Don't you ever pick up your damn phone?" "It's re-charging, why?" "Get in the car now, we're going to Jimmy's". That was the best excuse I've had to avoid doing my laundry. I hopped into the blue Mercedes. Mary and Howard said hello and off we went to Josh and Blair's new greasy spoon, Jimmy's Diner, 577 Union Ave. Josh named the diner after his late father, who was also a chef.

As we walked in, Blair had just sold a Mason Jar Mimosa to one of Williamsburg's hung-over locals, he was gracious and tipped is backwards baseball cap. Mary yelled "I brought your brother!" Josh put down the paper and gave me the guy-hug. We took over the corner booth. It's a sweet little place, Jimmy's — three blocks away from the L and G lines and just two blocks from McCarren Park. I ordered the brisket hash with 2 eggs — but before that, his famous home-made donut holes and buttermilk onion rings hit the table. Mary brought her own coffee beans. "My son doesn't know about good coffee." she insisted. Howard ate sensibly, he looks so much better since the heart surgery. Chris gave me her bacon and asked if I was going to the Mermaid Parade in the afternoon. "Nah, too crowded and over-rated". She agreed that when it's no longer outrageous, it's just another parade. Chris had a theater date at 2:00. Breakfast was an excellent surprise, Mary's treat.

Afterwards we went for a short walk to see what was new in the hood. There are a lot of ugly new buildings that went up quickly. As the economy struggles and real estate prices collapse, the high-dollar "boxes" are slowly coming down. But are people aware that they just bought into a place that looks like a Holiday Inn Motel with small balconies? On the ride home we crawled our way through the crowded Bushwick and Southy streets past Hassidic families — all the men clad in fur hats, heavy wool and prayer shawls.

Meanwhile in Prospect Heights...

I got to the museum by 3:45, Eliza and Colene where the first one's there along with the group of high-school kids playing hacky-sack. Eliza organized Knit with Art at the Brooklyn Museum's sculpture garden. It was a perfect first day of summer, slow cool breeze and not much of a crowd. Soon there were more — Miss Mildred, Victoria, Penelope, Marina, Marci.

Eliza and her husband Chris produced a play that he wrote called "Couldn't Say: Marriage in the Breakdown Lane." Eliza also designed the sets. It runs from July 49 until August 3 at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (tickets:

Some of us moved to the tree bench to make room for Danielle and Paula. Then surprise, Emily and Edna came all the way from Queens. I hadn't seen them since the dead of winter. Enda is finishing up her undergrad, she wants to go into veterinary medicine.

Eliza wokred on her bunch-o-blocks baby blanket, Marina had her socks. Penelope worked on a crochet scarf made with her left-over sock yarn. She showed us her orthoscopic scars from the frozen arm surgery. Ouch. But still she knits and crochets. I'm still a bit sunburned from last week, I worked on proofing patterns. I'm behind on launching my temporary small store. Do I need to put up a pre-temporary store before I put up the temporary store? Work fights with pleaure.

There were more familair faces from WWKIP Day, a few ogglers, a woman who wanted to take our picture for her mother. Knitting around that tree was a bit odd for conversation. I had to keep craining my head around the trunk to see who was talking. I had two more events to attend before the day was up: Judy and Ted's garden party and Deike's good-bye drink before she heads back to Germany to comeplete her Phd. Laundry will have to wait.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Patching the Patch

"I should very much like to hold it again — one last time..."

NicoDorem® patch, day two: Over morning coffee, Murat asked me how the patch was working. I told him that the craving to smoke is somewhat subsiding, then I asked him for a puff from his cigarette. I guess I'm on the slow road to quitting. I've noticed my worst cravings occur in the morning with coffee. But in just two days I have gone from smoking a pack and a half to random begging and stealing a puff here and there.

"Ahh! Ahhhh! Aaahhhhhhh... ahhhhhhhhhh... ahhhhh!"

The patch does not agree with oily skin. It kept falling off from my arm as if my body were rejecting an irritant. Isn't that how pearls are made? These daily patches come in three grades of strength: (step 1) 21 mg, (step 2) at 14 mg, and (step 3) 7 mg. I'm on step 2. I actually went through two of them yesterday. I found the first one stuck to my sock. The second one wound up at the hem of my sleeve. So I went out and bought some surgical tape and re-applied it to my chest. I'm surprised that it doesn't address skin types like oily, dry and combination skin — or marketing trends such as "with aloe", "green tea anitoxidents", "just for men" or "the lady-patch with calcium". What would a hairy person do? Would he (or she) have to shave an area as if preparing for surgery?

I'm finding that it's actually easier to quit in a warm-weather season when I can walk around. I tried the patch in winter and quit for four days, then I went back to smoking. A lot of it had to do with not wanting to leave my apartment due to winter weather — as tropical blood does not agree with the cold. Well, let's see what day three brings. I don't seem to get cranky as some people do, but I do have some minor short term memory loss. I hope that's due to the patch.

This Saturday Knit PH is meeting at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, but this time in the shade of the sculpture garden.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Playing with Fire

Two weeks ago. the price of a pack of cigarettes in New York state went up to $8.50. Outrageous? Yes, yet still I smoke. I've taken my NicoDerm® CQ® patches out of the fridge and I'm putting one on now. Maybe I should put out this cigarette first, who knows what will happen. My smoking habbit spun out of hand after 911. But I went back down to a pack a day down from three.

Random thoughts about smoking as I apply the patch...

You know what's annoying? Those Quit Smoking Now commercials with the amputee woman. She says she lost her fingers to smoking. Not once did she mention that she was diabetic. Shouldn't that commercial have been against bad living and fast food as well? Then there are the earlier Quit... Now commercials with graphic scenes of a doctor removing a gangrenous toe. When I Googled, I found that the oozing special FX leg was made by a company in the UK. My idea of a scared-straight smoking commercial would be my aunt Nell trying to kiss me on the head while smoking as the camera goes black into the Kleenex® tucked into in her sweaty bossom. I remember the horror.

When I was 10 the older boys made me store their cigarettes in my recorder case. That ensured that I, the fat kid, wouldn't get the crap kicked out of me on the bus ride home. I guess that made me a drug mule of sorts. Anyhow, my mother found them in my recorder case while she was cleaning my room. I told her I was holding it for the older boys. Although this was true, she slapped me telling me never to lie to her. It takes a brave soul to tell the truth, as it comes with consequences. This is how our legal system works. Why was she cleaning my recorder case?

I love everything about smoking a cigarette, but hate all manner of cigar. I had my first cigarette when I was 12, though I still find if odd that people take up smoking later in life. Being young and stupid is reasonable, but being older and stupid — not so much. I remember when Juan Palomo and I snuk into the boonies to smoke his father's Kools that he stole from the freezer. He argued that it wasn't stealing, it was in plain sight behind the ice cream. I wasn't one of those teenaged peer-pressured boys, in fact most of my peers didn't know I smoked. Oh... except the math club. Geeks! I quit smoking when I was 16. Why did I start smoking again? Oh, yeah, art college.

Back in the day... everyone in post WW2 Guam smoked: doctors, pregnant women, priests, politicians, judges, military folks, and construction workers alike. For the new immigrants it was the congratulatory badge that seemed to say "You made it, kick your feet up and enjoy." On Sunday's after church, my grandfather took me to banter-weight boxing in old Anigua. I remember the smell of pomade, cigarette smoke, Florida Water and Cracker Jack. The ring was small and the room was always clouded with smoke. My grandfather smoked a pipe. His brand of tobacco had a slight scent of apple. I used to love changing the Zippo flints and refilling the Ranson-all. He'd give me pipe cleaners to make little men if I did a good job. He died of lung cancer when I was 13.

On the other hand, I had a grand aunt who smoked a pack of filterless a day. She passed away at the age of 101 in 2004, but not due to anything smoking related — just the typical things that come with old age, hepatic and renal problems. Her mind was still sharp, but her body had out-lived its time. The doctors tried to get her to quit smoking during her dialysis sessions. My mother, the avid non-smoker, snuck her some cigarettes. "She's an old lady already! Give her what she wants!" she said. Someone once said "Imagine how long she would have lived if she didn't smoke." She was 101, how long does anyone really want to live?!!

Then there's my father, he died of complications to prostate cancer in Feb of 2006. Through circumstances beyond my control I didn't get to see him through the worst months of his life. People say he had difficulties with the treatment. I'd never seen my father smoke or drink but there are random photos of him at Lion's Club meetings — an oddly placed cigarette in one hand, bowling trophy in the other, surrounded by white guys sporting Polo Barong and Cabana Wear. He quit smoking when he married my mother. She says she made him quit.

The City of New York has made "the patch" available through their 311 help line. Here's the catch: you get one week's supply of the weakest grade of nicotine patch. That's it — no more no less. Isn't that like giving someone a one-way bus ticket that takes you a short of your destination? Or getting a watch that still needs repair for your birthday? Thanks for the cheap gift Bloomberg, but I bought my own. I also have the Nicorette® gum in the fridge. The buzz is comparable to Betel nut. I wonder if anyone is using the patch to get off the gum. Hmm. I don't care much for the gum. I chewed tobacco for a while when I lived in Colorado. I couldn't get myself to spit in public or in a cup on the dashboard.

Where was I going with this... oh, I remember that the patch gave me really weird dreams that last time around. The kind when you know you are dreaming while flying in a dream-state, but not knowing what to do. So you wake up and go to the bathroom — but hopefully not in your sleep.

Lordy my, this patch has a kick like a mule.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WWKKIP Brooklyn: June 14, 2008

Front steps at the Brooklyn Museum of Art...

A sunny Saturday with a chance of afternoon showers...

World-wide, Coney Island, Park Slope, Flatbush, Prospect Heights...

Sunset Park, Boro Park, Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Manhattan...

Sun block, sunglasses, straw hats, t-shirts, tank tops...

Cool cotton shorts and skirts, sneakers, bare feet, sandals...

Knit, crochet, converse, spin a yarn, share a tip, have a smoke...

Sit in the sun, follow the shade, kick back and enjoy the breeze...

Watch your step, take seat, find a cool spot...

Bring a crafty friend, meet up with old friends, make new ones...

Drop a stitch, get hooked, lose a hook, get a friend to find it...

Beginners, amateurs, professionals, people like you and me...

Wipe your brow, take a picture, watch people watching you...

Show up, show off, unravel, unfurl...

Cast on, bind off, take a spin, head out...

Make something for dad or for yourself.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Knit PH in the Park: June 06, 2008

I had to cancel out of Knit PH in the park this month, my evening plans from last week moved to Wednesday. But co-pilot Lisa G. (aka, knithoundbrooklyn) sent me the good word: "It was a great meet up, wish you could have been there. The weather was fantastic, every one had a good time. We stayed till nearly 9PM..."

Idyllic Knitting
by Lisa G.

Amanda came all the way from Morningside Hts to knit with her friend Holly and showed us her scarf, knit with Silk Dream by Lang — the pattern is from, called "Lace Ribbon Scarf". Mmmm, nice...

The Knit PH group got together for a bit of idyllic knitting in... [Prospect] park this evening — what a perfect evening it was, too. As the sun set over the trees, we sat in a convivial circle, talking about our lives and our knitting. How cool is it that so many things in the larger life are played out with sticks and yarn. I am always amazed by the correlation...

The weather this evening, unlike the last few, was perfect. The air was sweet and the dragon flies danced over our heads. I think we are so lucky to have knitting, parks, good weather and good friends. Don't you? We all had a great time and voted for more [Prospect] park knitting this summer!

But in stark contrast to Wednesday evening's pastoral weather

Tuesday night marked the last of the heatwave in a most dramatic way. I went to my friend Ian's 29th birthday party he's still under 30? and witnessed a massive lighting storm. Earlier in the evening we took pictures in the large concrete conduit on Dean Street and why not. As we went back in, the color of the sky changed rapidly from coral pink to dusky grey. The the sun slipped away completely.

The air turned sweet, it almost had the scent of fresh bread dough. At first I thought it was the cake crumbs caught in my moustache and goatee. The wind kicked up and trees started bending as a cloud of dust from the construciton area. You could hear gravel pelting agaisnt cars and windows. Plastic grocery bags and street garbage raced down the street as if they were fleeing impending doom. The black construction tarps flapped wildly. They looked as if they going to rip from their ties.

Of course that meant we all had to go back outside to stand in the middle of the turmoil. We retreated as soon as the lighting got a bit dangerous, but what a show — better than any Floyd concert. The rain flew almost horizontally to the ground. But when all ceased, everything just felt clean. The breeze was now slow and cool. The weather had finally broken.

Monday, June 09, 2008

How Hot Was It?

It was a so hot that I was tempted to eat cold bacon right out of the fridge, but I thought better. By 8:00 AM it was already 85° and climbing, I peeled my face from a sweaty halo and jumped into a cold shower. The morning news annouced to all people going to the Puerto Rican Pride Day Parade that the high would be in the 90s but it would feel like it be in the 100s with the humidty. I ran my errands while it was cooler: returned DVDs, picked up laundry, dropped off laundry, bought something cold to eat for lunch. Showered again. Got some light programming done. Showered again. I bought a Yahoo! store but it was too hot to sit through the white papers. By late afternoon the news announced that gasoline has risen $4.50 per gallon in some states, and President Bush will declare national disasters in Indiana, Wisconson, and Iowa. I watched clips of tornado and flood damage.

I noticed that the power started to surge up and down. That's when I hatched an evil-genious plan to have pizza in an uncrowded AC room. But where? I brought a book, caught an icy-cold Q train to an even colder 4 train to Grand Central, went downstairs to Two Boots and bought some slices (Bayou Beast). There were more armed guards than comuters milling about. I finished eating I went to the sitting area to read "The Silmarillion". The ride home was fine, not many delays switching trains. I can't believe I pulled this off without a hitch on a Sunday. I got home and took another shower, then headed out for a cold beer at Freddy's. As I walked down the Flatbush I noticed flashing lights and Con-Ed work trucks on several corners. People were out on their stoops sitting on dark streets. The Boerum Hill power grid had blown out, but not at Freddy's. Cold beer and good conversation in an air-conditioned Oasis —how can you beat that?

Spring 2008, tri-state heatwave, fuel crisis, food crisis, local and global natural disasters... all we need is a plague of insects and we can describe this spring as "biblically hot".

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fellowship of the String

One skien to swift a balll, One skein to wind them,
One skien to knit them all, And in the darkness bind them (off).

I reacquainted myself with my inner geek. Over the course of a month I sat down to watch the entire Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings", the film trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien's epic tale of war before the time of man. After hours upon hours of viewing, I did feel like a Hobbit. But I found myself completely inspired by the detailed costumes and armor designed by Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor — not to mention the art direction of Grant Major. I made screen caps and studied the symbols and patterns on fabric and armor closely — many of which inspired me to design cable work and fairisle patterns. I came up with a "Tree of Life" cable pattern (inset, above). I've seen similar patterns, like Barbara Walker's Twin Trees and Apple Tree cables ("A Third Teasury of Knitting Patterns"). But I wanted my tree to look like it had a sense of history and antiquity more than style. This pattern would be better suited for a cardigan or a gansey, but it might attract the attention of jocks, schoolyard bullies and the like. Maybe this would work better on a pillow case or a bathmat.

Stansborough Fibers a, New Zealand textile company, created the fabrics used for cloaks and other costumes made for the film. The syncopated Elven pattern is called the "Stansborough Fabric - GWT1A". The fibers are spun from a breed of light-grey sheep that was selectively bred over generations to produce an unusually silky, soft and lustrous fleece. (They also designed textiles for the film "The Chronicles of Narnia"). I translated a few Elven patterns into a jacquard scheme. This would easily translate into a lace pattern as well. I call the diagonal pattern "Woodland Checks" (above). I'm plotting this pattern on a hooded cashmere scarf. The basic vertical pattern (left) I call "Woodland Leaves". It looks a bit like the classic candle/flames pattern. I made it into a screen background for my computer but it made me dizzy — nauseous actually. Can you imagine this as bathroom tile? Whoa, that could be a disaster. "Woodland Leaves" might also make a nice pattern for shower curtains. "LOTR: The Two Showers" ?

Conceptual artist John Owe, worked with designers Dickson and Taylor to create other-worldy armor, which inlcuded equestrian gear, helms, crests, guanlets, rerebraces, swords, plate & chain meil, and shields. The armor clearly defined the races of Orcs, Elves and Dwarfs and men. I'm designing a balaclava base on a First-age Evlen helmet. I finally got the face plate to curve with my forehead. I just have to get the sides and back to meet. Will it be warm enough? Who cares, this looks cool! The guanlets will follow after I get the helmet figured out.

I read "The Hobbit" and most of "Lord of the Rings" while riding the bus in college. I don't know much about Tolkein. Dan tells me that Tolkien was a language professor and he studied Eastern philosophies and religions. His sudies and his service in WWI inspried "The Silmarillion", his first book that launched the others. Maybe I'll have some of these done before the movie version of "The Hobbit" launches.