Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Morning in Downtown Brooklyn: The Atlantic Terminal LIRR Entrance Is Uncovered

We were on our way to teach at Brooklyn College this morning, walking from the G train station at Fulton and Lafayette to the Atlantic Terminal at 7:30 a.m. when we saw them finally taking down the wooden barriers behind which the new Long Island Rail Road terminal entrance construction has been going on for over three years.

On Hanson Place some workers were using a blowtorch (we don't know our tools, really) to do other stuff, but they were definitely tearing down the barriers so passersby could see the work.

And we arrived at an opportune time, because construction workers had just opened, for the first time in years, the pathway from the current entrance (by the Starbucks) that goes around the new curved terminal entrance when they closed the sidewalk near Flatbush Avenue.

There was still fencing between us and the terminal and most of the windows had the blinds drawn but we, along with another oldtimer and a young couple were apparently the first ones to get to peek inside.

"It looks like a museum," said the older guy on our left as we looked in. "It's beautiful. Maybe they overdid it, but it's about time it's done."

After our class and some conferences and lunch at the Junction, we were back around 1 p.m. and all the boards had been taken down and we got a good view from Ashland Place, across from the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building or whatever it's called now.

The workers were still doing stuff, and foot and street traffic was slow and diverted, but it looks like the LIRR entrance should be open to the public soon and it looks as if it will be beautiful.

Here's an artist's rendering of the almost-completed Atlantic Terminal LIRR entrance:

Anyway, as we made our way to Lafayette Avenue past BAM back to the G train to Williamsburg, everything seemed normal, with the usual aquatic creatures hanging around the street.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Afternoon in Greenpoint: Greenpoint Oktoberfest at WNYC Transmitter Park

On a bright blue late October afternoon, we strolled over to the nascent WNYC Transmitter Park at the end of Greenpoint Avenue past West Street by the waterfront for the celebration of Greenpoint Oktoberfest.

Real work on the park won't start until next spring with a completion date of 2011. Meanwhile, the ground is mostly dirt, and the entrance was a little muddy from yesterday's big rains.

Greenpoint Oktoberfest drew big crowds and Transmitter Park fit them in quite comfortably.

Lots of people lined up for food and drink.

The weather was great and everyone seemed in a cheerful mood.

Sunday's our only day off this semester so we were grateful for the event.

There were a number of friendly vendors selling delicious stuff.

These spreads were particularly scrumptious on bread.

There were a lot of kids there, and this root beer garden was for them.

What would a root beer garden be without pumpkins?

It was a clear day and pleasant to sit out and eat and drink and look towards Manhattan.

Here's the park sign, which contains numerous typos.

We can only imagine how nice it will be in about 18 months when it will be a real park.

A soccer game was in progress at the north end of the park by the water.

The art installation by Greenpoint's own Weston Woolley was thought-provoking as well as decorative.

It's called "Billboards."

And it's eco-friendly.

According to Wikitravel,
The first Oktoberfest took place on the 12 October 1810, to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. All citizens of Munich were invited to a meadow (Wies'n) situated in front of the city tower, subsequently renamed the Theresienwiese in honor of the bride.

In the early years of the fair, horse races were held, then as the event grew, included agricultural conventions, which still take place every third year. In 1896, businessmen working with the breweries in Munich built the first giant beer tents at Oktoberfest, and drinking has been the primary focus since.

There was drinking at this non-Munich Oktoberfest, too.

The skyline looks great from the park, but that's basically true of the entire Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront.

Methods NYC had a nice selection of tees.

This is from the official press release for the event:
In the tradition of taking what you love and transforming it into something new and special, MeanRed, FreeNYC and the L Magazine get together to bring you an Oktoberfest celebration Greenpoint this afternoon.

The day is littered with music, food, crafts, spectacle and, of course, beer, on the Brooklyn waterfront. Featuring music by Michna, Cowboy Mark and DJ Synapse... food from Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Hallo Berlin and Robicelli's Cupcakes... and even root "bier" floats, pumpkin decorating and face painting for the kiddies.

On the brew front (to get to the important things), there will be seasonal and Oktoberfest offerings from Long Island's Blue Point Brewery, Brooklyn's Sixpoint and Brooklyn Breweries, and upstate's Ithica Beer Company. It's rain or shine and free entry all day. All Ages!

We had a great time, along with many others, at Greenpoint Oktoberfest. We'll leave you with Stan Chow's original design for the poster, which had last Sunday's date and not a little kid in sight.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Evening in Downtown Brooklyn: First Annual Downtown Brooklyn Hoedown at the Bond Street Garage

We spent a couple of hours early on this very rainy evening on the fifth level of the Bond Street parking garage between Livingston and Schermerhorn Streets, enjoying the first annual Downtown Brooklyn Hoedown.

Avoiding the weekend Lorimer Street L train shuttle bus mishigass, we took the fabulous G train to Hoyt-Schermerhorn and walked across to the garage, and then up the steps

to where we heard the sounds of a crowd and good bluegrass music. Originally scheduled as an outdoor event on the parking lot's top level, the thunderstorms moved it indoors one level below (though we did go up to the top to get the view).

This all-ages, outdoor event began at noon with pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, barbecue from The Good Fork (some carnivores told us the pulled pork was great). Then came "stars of the Brooklyn Bluegrass and Country scene" playing till midnight.

The Five Deadly Venoms, a great Brooklyn-based bluegrass band, were playing their tunes for most of the time we were at the Hoedown. They are Rick Snell, guitar; Elio Schiavo, mandolin; Rob Hecht, fiddle; James Kerr, dobro; and Jared Engel, double bass. The Verde Valley News said that their debut album "is full of delicately executed musicianship and beautifully written ballads, many of which feel destined to be standards."

You can hear The Five Deadly Venoms, finalists in the 2009 Telluride Bluegrass band contest, on this video as they play "Will the Roses Bloom":

Their set was terrific. For the last set, they were joined by a banjo player.

We also caught a little of Mimi LaValley and Friends, who were really good.

Mimi's music is funny ("All My Boyfriend's Ex-Wives Look Alike") and bright.

Downtown Brooklyn may not be the most down-home place in the USA, but we really enjoyed our time at the Hoedown.

There were a lot of little kids running around.

And of course, it's one week until Halloween so there were the jack-o'lanterns carved earlier in the day.

Hey, some audience members (including us) got to sit on bales of hay.

This was the schedule of music:
1pm - Open Bluegrass Jam with Michael Daves
3pm - The Cozy Shack Fiddle Extravaganza and Family Square Dance
5pm - All-Star BLUEGRASS with Melody Berger (whom we missed), The Five Deadly Venoms with Elio Schiavo, Mimi LaValley and friends
8pm - Dancing under the harvest moon with Brooklyn's best County Rock: Alex Battles, SAMMO, Jessica Rose and the Highlife.

We had to leave early for dinner in Brooklyn Heights but are certain the crowd at the Hoedown continued to have a lot of fun at this really nice autumn event.